Officials from the education, child protection and disaster management sectors from 14 Caribbean countries joined development partners in Barbados this week to discuss the lessons learned from last year’s devastating hurricanes and strategize how to position the education sector to guarantee continuation education and protection in future impacts.
The forum, which falls under the Caribbean Safe School Initiative, comes against the backdrop of the impact of powerful Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria which caused widespread damage in several Caribbean countries in 2017. Education and Child Protection were among the services and infrastructure which was significantly damaged or destroyed during these major weather events.
A broad range of partners was involved in the far-reaching exercise, including the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, European Commission - Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department, Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector, IsraAID, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNISDR Office for Disaster Risk Reduction along with Ministries of Education, Social Development and Disaster Management Offices.
Aimed at taking stock, documenting and sharing lessons learned in the implementation of the education sector emergency response, the forum explored future disaster risk reduction and preparedness action and investment in education and child protection systems. In addition, it provided a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and south-south learning and inform broader regional practice. National action plans were developed and agreed by each country; and the Caribbean road map for school safety was analyzed to recommend updates in preparation for the Second Ministerial Safe School Forum to be held in 2019.
Representatives from the Caribbean countries discussed mechanisms for providing psychosocial support to children and frontline workers as well as children on the move protocols considering events in 2017 where a number of children left impacted countries to travel to Caribbean neighbors, an issue which remains of great concern.
Countries participating were Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Marten and Suriname.