According to the head of NEMA, National Disaster Coordinator, Mr. Carl Herbert, the new initiative is actually a revised School Safety Program that was first implemented a few years ago, but was discontinued, as a result of a variety of challenges, experienced by the facilitators.
It is being delivered with the assistance of The United States Office of Foreign Assistance (USAID/OFDA).
Herbert said that, in keeping with their commitment, the School Safety Program has been picked up and dusted off, with the intention of being re-introduced to the school systems, following a “Train the Trainers” workshop, to be held at NEMA Headquarters next week.
Mr. Herbert said, “USAID/OFDA have remained committed to the process, and they have provided the necessary support, to ensure its progress.”
The workshop is being spearheaded by NEMA, in conjunction with USAID/OFDA’s new Consultant for St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs. Audrey Mullings, and the Ministry of Education. Some thirty public school teachers are to be qualified in the exercise, which will be shared with educators in the private school sector, later into the school year. A similar activity is also scheduled to take place on Nevis later this month, as part of a project, sponsored by the Organization of American States.
“It is our hope,” Mr. Herbert says, “that our Federation can glean tangible benefits from this essential training, as we have long recognized that education increases the resiliency of communities to hazards.” Herbert has been lobbying for the institution of comprehensive public awareness programs, which focus on multi-hazard impact, for some time now.
“Preparing communities to mitigate against disasters always begins with the sharing of knowledge,” says Herbert, “and as everyone in our Federation knows, people always listen to what school children say, so they are critical to the success of this program.”
A School Safety Stakeholders Consultation will follow on the heels of the training, on March 25th, bringing together thirty participants from both St. Kitts and Nevis, to deliberate on the outputs of the workshop and to define the way forward.
The School Safety Workshop takes place at NEMA HQ, from 16th to 18th March, 2011.