#Barbados, May 23, 2018 – Bridgetown – A team from the Turks and Caicos Islands participated in the Safe School Initiative, (Learning Together) Regional Conference, held in Bridgetown Barbados from May 15-18, 2018.
The team comprised of the Deputy Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Home Affairs, Transportation & Communication, Mrs. Bridgette Newman, Hazard Mitigation Officer with the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies, Mr. Mike Clerveaux, Director of Education, Mr. Edgar Howell, Education Officer, Mr. David Bowen and Principal of Oseta Jolly Primary School, Mrs. Rachel Hendfield.
The conference brought together a number of Education, Social Services, Disaster Management and development partners from across the Caribbean to:
- Create a space to discuss and peer learn following the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria during the 2017 Hurricane Season
- Share good practices implemented during and following the passage of the hurricanes and also identify challenges faced
- Identify gaps in both the education and wider children protection sectors and to re affirm the importance and relevance of the Caribbean Road Map for School Safety; with the hope that gaps would be addressed as soon as possible to build a resilient education system within the Framework of the Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI)
The conference was also a precursor to the Second Ministerial School Safety Forum scheduled to be held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines next year. The Minister of Education attended the first forum and signed on to the Safe School Initiative on behalf of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Additionally, the six countries most impacted by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria during the 2017 Hurricane Season namely (British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica and Saint Marten) were used as case studies; which afforded the team from the TCI to make presentations on the effects of the hurricanes on the two sectors and lessons learnt.
A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of one of the pillars of the Safe School Initiative was also done and preparation and presentation of an Action Plan for continued development and improvement in the sectors over the next three years.
Coming out of the two days of intense discussions and presentations were other longer term needs that were agreed upon and will require further development with the assistance and support of various development partners including:
- New Strategies and policies
- Gender Issues
- WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) Programmes at school Level
- Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans at national and school level
- Mechanisms for provision of psychosocial support for children, teachers as well as First Responders
- Children on the move protocols
The team was proud to represent the country at this very important time of learning and sharing; team leader Mrs. Bridgette Newman commented, “the opportunity to share with other Caribbean brothers and sisters on the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria not only on the education and social services sectors, but indeed each individual country was truly enlightening. It gave us an opportunity to hear firsthand from other counterparts on their levels of devastation, recovery efforts thus far and challenges into the upcoming season. It also allowed us to put our own country’s situation into perspective. The wealth of knowledge and experience gained will assist us in our various capacities and hopefully influence how we work together to build a more resilient Turks & Caicos Islands.”
Participants in the Conference included Ministries of Education, Social Services and the National Disaster Management Agencies of Anguilla, BVI, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Turks and Caicos, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, St Maarten, Saint Lucia, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as various Development included: Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction & Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRES, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid (IsraAID), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and (ECHO).
The team returned to the country on Friday May 18, 2018.