The President of Education International (EI) has told a conference here of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT), that the state of the public school system in many countries of this region does not reflect the importance attached by Caribbean people to quality education for their children.
According to Susan Hopgood, although literacy rates are higher than in most other low income countries ‘ education budgets are, in our view, falling short of meeting basic conditions.’
The Education International President stated Monday that her organisation has received reports about the neglect of school building maintenance, inadequate sanitary facilities, mold infested classrooms, crumbling asbestos rooftops and unprotected power lines.
“Suffice it to say that we wholeheartedly support your demands that education authorities should pay more attention to poor health and safety conditions in your schools and classrooms,” Hopgood stated.
“We hope that together we will be able to have healthy and safe school environments move up the political agenda in all Caribbean countries,” the EI official told her audience.
(Section of audience)
She said governments should give more priority to the restoration and repair of school buildings when damaged by severe weather conditions which hit the Caribbean more frequently than in the past.
Hopgood expressed solidarity with colleagues in the Bahamas which suffered devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew last October.
She asserted that climate change was one of the greatest threats facing the planet today.
“Yet some powerful world leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand, labelling climate change a hoax,” Hopgood said, to laughter from the audience.
“You don’t need me to highlight the impact of climate change on your region – many of you are already experiencing it,” she observed.
She noted that education is a powerful tool in raising awareness of the ‘global climate emergency.’