Education Ministry launches Model Safe School programme – creating safer, greener institutions
DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 6, 2017
In an effort to create safer and greener educational institutions, a Model Safe School programme (MSSP) training and Competition was launched today, at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Battery Road, Kingston, Georgetown.
The MSSP seeks to establish an ideal, yet adaptable, approach to risk management at the school level which includes, the articulation of school safety policies, the recognition of standards for school safety and the implementation of interventions to address risk.
The training aspect of the programme will see District Education Officers (DEOs) for each region, along with other government officials benefitting from a four-day training session. The objective is to familiarise trainees with the context for the MSSP and the assessment tools; train on the utilization of the tool to assess risk in schools, and in the preparation of assessment reports.
On November 7, the team will be at the Diamond Secondary School; on November 08, Tucville Secondary; November 09, South Ruimveldt Secondary and the last session will be held on November 10 at NCERD.
In addition to a sound approach to the MSSP theory and methodology, a hands-on learning experience is envisioned where trainees undertake all stages of the assessment and reporting process, including the development of recommendation reports and action plans. Consequently, the participation of schools, providing a real-life setting, is of vital importance for the achievement of the training’s learning objectives.
During the opening ceremony, Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson explained that with the rise of both natural and manmade hazards in the Caribbean, all measures must be put in place to ensure the safety of the nation’s children.
Therefore, Hutson explained that “The model must focus on four stages of planning and the four stages I want to speak on is that of mitigation, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.” Additionally, such a model must also be designed to complement and integrate with the complex system of emergency preparedness in the greater community; locally, regionally, and internationally.
Hutson further noted that that aim is to be more proactive, rather than reactive, so that in the case of a disaster, schools must not be out for long periods.
In this regard, the need for the disaster management module to be introduced at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) was emphasized by Civil Defence Commission’s Director General (retd.) Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup.
“…why do we want that, because when the teacher comes out of there, they have an idea, a background of disaster management, and they will continue it in the schools, it is very important especially when we see what is happening now,” Ramsarup explained. He also said that schools must conduct regular fire drills, and students and teachers must be taught how to use hydrants.
Also giving brief remarks at the event was Elizabeth Riley of Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) who noted that this programme is a timely one.
Riley explained that ensuring school safety has emerged as a key public policy issue for governments in the region, given the key role that the education sector plays in economic and social development, and bearing in mind that many schools in the region function as emergency shelters, as well as spaces for community activities.
She applauded the Government of Guyana for forging ahead with the programme, and for being able to attract additional financial contribution to the process.
The pilot project is being facilitated by the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Austrian Development Cooperation, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Civil Defense Commission (CDC).
By: Synieka Thorne