Schools in Guyana, both public and private, can expect in the coming days to be much more prepared and safe in the event of a disaster, whether natural or man-made.
This was the notion shared by Deputy Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Elizabeth Riley at the launch of the Model Safe School Training Programme that was facilitated at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) building, Battery Road, Georgetown.
Riley said the programme is part of the “regional flagship programme” that the agency has been developing to ensure the safety of schools.
The effort is a collaborative one between the Ministry of Education, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Australian Development Corporation, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Civil Defence Commission.
It was related that the recent disasters in the Caribbean have made it more important and necessary for the initiative to be developed across the region.
“Because our schools are at a place where we assume that we have safety for our children and also for the teachers who support those children, it is very important that these facilities are assessed to be able to understand the level of vulnerability, the kinds of hazards the facilities are exposed to, and very importantly, the actions that we need to take to make these environments safer,” she said.
It is because of this that a team is expected to train several assessors, so as to secure a group of persons who are able to visit schools and carry out detailed assessments. Schools will then be given a score, based on the assessment needs.
Riley disclosed that, “The score from the assessment will not be as important as understanding the things that need to be fixed at the school, or to make whatever adjustments to get schools to a certain standard”.
Starting today, at least three Secondary schools will be assessed – Diamond, Tucville and South Ruimveldt.
Yesterday’s training session was held at the NCERD building after the launch, while today’s sessions as well as others during this week, will be held at the aforementioned schools.
Trainers were brought from the United States to help the assessors.
Facilitating yesterday’s training session was Mr. Marcel Goyeneche of the United States.
30 persons were part of yesterday’s training.
One Education Officer from each district was selected to attend the training. Also attending were Government and Non-Governmental Organizations, such as members of the Guyana Police Force and Optimum Safety Solutions.
Financing the training are the Government of Austria, and the Ministry of Education.
Over the one-week period, trainers will discuss a variety of items.
Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hudson stated that Climate change is affecting the world, and despite the fact that Guyana was not affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, there must be proper preparedness measures in place to handle the situation whenever the need arises.
It was noted that since 2007, CDEMA has been promoting disaster risk management at the Sectoral level, including the productive and social sectors.
In April of this year, CDEMA launched the Caribbean Safe Schools initiative, which is actually the Caribbean’s version of a global safe schools initiative that was launched by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Participants in this programme are from Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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