Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 08 October 2018 16:02

Addressing School safety, Disaster Risk Management priorities for Education Ministry

School safety and Disaster Risk Management are top priorities for the Ministry of Education in order to create safe environments for children and teachers. 

This was accentuated at today’s opening session of a four day Mission being held by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the Presidential Agency on International Cooperation of Colombia.
The team from Colombia comprises of Secretary of Education Colombia, Mr. Miguel Ochoa and other education officers including representatives from the University Of Antioquia Colombia. The Mission is geared at facilitating the transfer of in Risk Management and School Safety between Guyanese and the Colombian contingent.
According to District Education Officer, Mr. Sherwin Blackman and Coordinator of the Mission, the partnership started over a year ago between the Education Ministry, EPA and the Government of Columbia.
He said that the goal is to create a mobile system to teach risk management and first aid for the benefit of schools. He said that it is important that when discussing the issue of risk management, it must be understood not only in the context of natural disasters but other social issues.
Delivering the feature address on behalf of the Minister of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry, was Regional Education Officer (Region 10), Ms. Marcia Paddy who said that in May 2018, a representative from the Education Ministry (Mr. Sherwin Blackman) and the EPA represented Guyana in Colombia in an exploratory visit to gain experience in disaster risk management in schools. news 20181008 21
“This was with the understanding that Guyana will do its part in implementing processes that will result in safer and greener educational facilities, that the education sector will work towards the continued reducing of risk at schools and establish an ideal, yet adaptable approach to risks management at the school level” Ms. Paddy noted.

She said that the plan to address these issues is not haphazard in any way. Ms. Paddy explained that, “It is a structured in-depth process that encompasses a variety of approaches and synergies. The Ministry of Education recognises the significance of Risk Management and School Safety in the promotion of best practices of risk management.”
Additionally, she noted that in 2017 the following three schools participated in a competition and were assessed locally based on the vulnerability assessment. These schools were Diamond Secondary, South Ruimveldt Secondary and Tucville Secondary.
Following this competition, Ms. Paddy said that action plans with recommendations for improving each of the named school’s safety and disaster risk reduction plan were designed.
Moreover, she noted that the Model Safe School Programme is being piloted at three other schools, these are St. John’s College, Richard Ishmael Secondary School and Dolphin Secondary School.
She said that the long-term expectations as a result of the training is geared at the development of comprehensive protocols for risk management equipment and to ensure teachers and students are trained as first responders with basic first aid skills.
Executive Director of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams said that Guyana is a blessed country. He noted that save for floods, the country is not affected by any major natural 20181008 23
Despite this, he reminded that Guyana is still vulnerable since it is below sea level. He said that risk management and risk analysis will teach Guyanese, especially children how to be prepared and what to do if certain situations arise. Dr. Adams added that with climate change being inevitable, preparedness is necessary.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, Director General (ag) of the Civil Defence Commission said that children are an important group since they are strong and resilient, adapting to stresses that weaken most adults. However, he noted that children are still vulnerable. news 20181008 22
He said that educational facilities need to be retrofitted to make the environment safe. According to the Director General, this needs to be done at both private and public schools with implements that are simple, applicable and adaptable.

Further, he said that personnel within the school system including teachers need to be trained and equipped to protect those persons that come under their charge.
Secretary-General of the Guyana Red Cross, Ms. Dorothy Fraser noted that training in the areas of risk management and school safety is imperative so that young people, parents and teachers can know how to prevent disaster and administer aid.


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