The Minister of Education believes that schools should not be used as emergency shelters so students can continue with their studies after a disaster.
Dr Gale Rigobert, who is also Minister for Sustainable Development, says education becomes affected in the aftermath of disasters when schools are utilized by displaced people.
She suggested that specialized buildings be constructed to be used exclusively for emergency housing purposes.
Rigobert made the remarks after attending a summit on climate change in Germany.
“We have two concerns. Should we continue to dub schools as emergency shelters because in the event of an extraordinary catastrophe then can we afford to have our students stay out of school for an extraordinarily long period of time while of course we afford those who are displaced a priority for housing? Or two should we construct building that are designated almost exclusively as emergency shelters? I must say that Prime Minister and I have had that discussion and there is some inclination to move to the latter so as to reduce the risk of having to continue to rely on school as emergency shelters and in the event of a catastrophe then we find ourselves having to deny our students the opportunity to continue with their learning seamlessly,” Rigobert said.
Minister Rigobert pointed to the situation in Dominica where children were left out of school for an extended period as schools were being used as emergency shelters following Hurricane Maria.
She said the government has secured some funding for emergency shelters.
While the ultimate goal is to move away from using schools as emergency shelters, Rigobert said the old paradigm will have to continue in the meantime.
She also acknowledged the deteriorating conditions of some schools on the island, saying that grant funding was being sought for maintenance and restoration works.