As Barbados readies itself for yet another Hurricane season, the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT) is continuing its efforts to ensure a diverse set of individuals are trained to maintain the safety of educational institutions.
This was conveyed today by Deputy Chief Education Officer, Joy Adamson, as she explained the significance of a diverse group of participants attending the three-day workshop on the Model Safe Schools Programme (MSSP), at the Ministry’s headquarters, Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.
The workshop is a collaborative effort with the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and its funding agencies.
Mrs. Adamson, while acknowledging the workshop comprised representatives of teachers’ unions, and persons in disaster management, highlighted there were also safety officers, a new addition to the METVT.
“In Barbados, this is something new …. We now have five safety officers. They are assigned to schools and I am hoping that we would be able to increase that number shortly and hopefully from this session that these safety officers would be able to go out and train other persons, so that even if they are not in the posts of safety officer, we do have teachers at each of our schools who can now be able to make sure that our schools are safe,” she explained.
Noting the presence of the Education Technical Management Unit at the workshop, the Deputy Chief said that unit, headquartered at the METVT, looks after all school buildings, especially primary, and also gives advice to the secondary schools.
Mrs. Adamson pointed to the significant role to be played with the inclusion of the Barbados National Standards Institution. Revealing that out of the workshop the Ministry would be “having standards at all of its schools”, she said there would be a recognition programme where the Ministry would stamp a school with words such as ‘this is a safe school’.
Alluding to the Ministry of Health and the Barbados Fire Service, she said: “And when we open any school, any educational institution, we always have the Ministry of Health and the Fire Service to come and evaluate, and therefore it is important that the fire service representative is here as well, and they are here to make sure that they understand the standards and that they also give insight as we move forward.”
With the Ministry undertaking a pilot project at The Ellerslie School, Mrs. Adamson told participants that, as part of a workshop module, a tour of that school would be undertaken on May 18, to aid them in better understanding some of the things learnt at the workshop that they would be able to assess.
The Model Safe Schools Programme is the recognised approach for reducing risks in schools, and is rooted in standards. A suite of guiding tools and templates are available for use, and include the Model Safe Schools Policy, the Model School Safety Plan, and the School Safety Assessment Tool, also available as a mobile App.
Later this year, a Model Education Sector Plan and a Safe Schools Recognition Programme are expected to be added to the MSSP.