Press Release:–Sunday, February 19, 2017 — The OECS continues to engage citizens of Member States on issues impacting their lives through its Public Education Forum Series, dubbed Vini Kozé – Kweyol for ‘Come Chat.’ The series of dialogues is aimed at educating and informing the people of the OECS on the social, economic and political benefits of Integration. It seeks to ensure citizen engagement and active participation in the regional integration process. The fourth Forum, to be held in Martinique on Friday February 24, will focus on OECS Regional Integration.
Martinique became an Associate Member State of the OECS on February 4th 2015. The Agreement for Associate Membership makes provision for closer cooperation between Martinique and OECS Member States in Education, Sports, Health, Air and Sea Transportation, Leisure and Boating Tourism, Arts and Culture.
OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules, hopes the Public Education Series will provide a forum for intelligent and open dialogue and debate on issues of deep concern to the average citizen of the OECS. Dr. Jules says the relationship with Martinique is a very special one since Martinique is a gateway to Europe with tremendous opportunities for trade, especially in services, as well as closer collaboration in tourism-related initiatives, arts and culture. Though Martinique is an Associate Member of the OECS, Dr. Jules believes “we must look beyond the technical elements and give due consideration to the broad vision, and what we are seeking to achieve as a region.”
The Forum Series Kicked-off in the BVI in mid-January. The BVI Forum evoked discussion on successes in Education in the OECS, and created greater awareness of deficiencies. It also generated a range of fresh ideas, strategies and possible solutions that can be applied in creating a better education system across Member States. The second Forum on Youth Empowerment and Development was held in Anguilla in late January. The Anguilla Forum discussed youth unemployment, youth crime and violence, the juvenile justice system, as well as development opportunities for young persons, especially in the areas of education, sports, and the arts. Like Martinique, the BVI and Anguilla are also Associate Member States of the OECS.
The third Forum was recently held in Dominica on Friday February 10, 2017. The Dominica Forum focused on Climate Change, its impact on Small Island Developing States, as well as adaptation and mitigation measures being implemented by OECS Member States to cope with the effects of Climate Change.
The OECS Public Education Forum Series (PEFS) will run until March 2017. The forum provides an opportunity for key decision makers, grass roots observers and experts within respective fields to discuss and debate issues related to the achievements, development opportunities and challenges facing the region. Each Forum features a Panel comprising representatives of government, the private sector, an international organisation, civil society, and the NGO Community. The Forum is held before a live audience who poses questions and engages panellists in discussion through a moderator.
The Forum Series is part of the public education component of the Economic Integration and Trade Programme of the OECS region, funded by the 10th European Development Fund.