Press Release:-Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Dr. Gale T. C. Rigobert recently headed a two-member delegation at a two-day Caribbean Safe School Ministerial Forum in Antigua and Barbuda, on the 3rd and 4th of April, 2017.
Dr Rigobert, who was accompanied by Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Planning Kendall Khodra, in highlighting the importance of Saint Lucia’s participation, underscored her commitment to providing “safe schools” for Saint Lucian students and lifelong learners.
Dr. Rigobert emphasized the need to promote safe schools and expressed the need to integrate disaster response management into the education sector, which, for her, would inevitably call for the infusion of disaster response management concepts into the curriculum.
She added, “Our vulnerabilities are well known – partly a function of our size, our geographic location and our historical role in the international political economy. We must assume a more proactive role in building resilience due to our vulnerabilities, and engendering a culture of safety is critical in that general effort.”
The issues addressed included: tsunami public awareness and education strategy; climate change and how this phenomenon informs the need for safe schools; the development of a regional road map for school safety and the infrastructural integrity of our schools; the need to adhere to building codes and standards; making schools accessible to all (including persons with disabilities); enhancing the level of preparedness of our educators, personnel and students in disaster risk management; and investing in disaster risk reduction for strengthening resilience.
In that regard, there were calls for greater collaboration among the various relevant agencies involved in disaster risk management. Dr. Rigobert is adamant that establishing “safe schools” is a critical factor in ensuring that Saint Lucian students are exposed to the best learning experience in a safe and friendly environment.
At the end of the two-day conference, participating states endorsed the Antigua and Barbuda declaration on Caribbean Safe Schools.
“The Government of Saint Lucia has embraced the Safe School concept, because it is in keeping with our vision for the education sector and our efforts to promote green schools (within the wider ambit of greening our economy) bearing in mind climate change and how it influences our vulnerabilities,” Minister Rigobert said.
Several regional and international agencies, friendly governments and partners participated in the two-day meeting, including the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Central Development Bank (CDB), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), United Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Austrian Development Cooperation.