Jul 25, 2018 News
The Ministry of Education is on a mission to ensure that public schools across the country adopt safety measures. In order to achieve this goal, the Ministry is currently looking to recruit a consultant who will help to draft policies in this regard.
This move, which is high on the Ministry’s agenda, is directly linked to its decision to adopt, on a national level, a Safe School project which was first introduced last year.
Coordinating the process is Ms. Carol Benn, Senior Education Officer, within the Education Ministry.
Benn, during a recent interview with this publication revealed that the move to embrace this project followed on the heels of a ministerial meeting which was attended by Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson.
An outcome of the meeting was that Guyana, through the Education Ministry, would participate in a Safe School Competition with several other Caribbean countries.
So last November we had the launch of this competition where three of our schools took part. The schools were Tucville, Diamond and South Ruimveldt secondaries, and we had representatives from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency [CDEMA] who came to Guyana,” Benn related.
In addition to working closely with CDEMA, the Education Ministry has also been collaborating with the Civil Defence Commission, according to Benn.
The competition saw Tucville Secondary coming out on top. The school, according to Benn, was able to implement a number of measures to make its environment safe. However, participating in the project merely represented a part of a pilot run of the Safe School Project here in Guyana.
According to Benn, since the Ministry of Education has every intention of expanding the project, she anticipates that in the long run, schools across the country will be safer in every aspect.
This essentially is the aim of the Safe School project, Benn intimated.
“We are talking about safety in its entirety…safety in terms of persons, their health and security. We are talking about safety of the school environment, both internal and external – from the compound to the fence. We look to see how children treat their building too; if they write on the walls or not. We look at whether they wear a badge when we go into the school,” she added.
Although another three schools will shortly be targeted to introduce Safe School measures, Benn admitted that it will take some time before the project can be fully implemented at all schools.
In order to take the project to an expanded level, she noted that “we are now trying to draft a document which will set a national standard. So when we are finished with that document, schools will not have their own policies, but they should conform to that document.”
“We have been using the policies from CDEMA, but we want something unique to Guyana,” Benn asserted.
She added, “We are hoping that after the second batch of three schools, other schools will come on board, and by then we will have the national standard. So safety will become mandatory. We know it will not happen overnight, it has to happen incrementally.”
This is in light of the fact, Benn said that “some schools were built ages ago, so you can’t do anything, but when it comes to building new schools we would expect that the new schools follow the standard”.
In recent weeks the Ministry has been seeking the services of a suitably qualified consultant by way of advertisement in the daily newspapers who, once recruited, will take the lead in drafting policies for a national Safe School project, after which the Ministry will roll out the plan.
The Safe School project was introduced last year as one intended to create safer and greener educational institutions, while at the same time establishing an ideal, yet adaptable, approach to risk management at the school level.
The project is one that is also expected to include the implementation of school safety policies, allow for the recognition of standards for school safety and the implementation of interventions to address risk.
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