Addressing School Safety, DisasterRisk Management are Priorities forThe Education Ministry By The Ministry of Education
School safety and disaster risk management are top
priorities for the Ministry of Education in order to
create safe environments for children and teachers.
This was accentuated recently at a four day Mission
held by the Ministry of Education in collaboration
with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); in
partnership with the Presidential Agency on International
Cooperation of Colombia.
The team from Colombia comprises of Mr. Miguel
Ochoa and Juan David Rodrigues, both representing
the Secretary of Education; and Adriana Gil, Professor
of the University of Antioquia. The Mission is geared at
facilitating the transfer of in-risk management and school
safety between Guyanese and the Colombian contingent.
According to District Education Officer, Mr.
Sherwin Blackman and Coordinator of the Mission,
the partnership started over a year ago between the
Education Ministry, EPA and the Government of
He said that the goal is to create a mobile system
to teach risk management and first aid for the benefit
of schools. He said that when discussing the issue of
risk management, it must be understood not only in the
context of natural disasters, but in other social issues.
Delivering the feature address on behalf of the Minister
of Education was Regional Education Officer (Region
10), Ms. Marcia Paddy, who said that in May 2018, a
representative from the Education Ministry in the person of
Mr. Sherwin Blackman and from the EPA, Ms. Candacie
Brower-Thompson, represented Guyana in Colombia in
an exploratory visit to gain experience in disaster risk
management in schools.
“This was with the understanding that Guyana will
do its part in implementing processes that will result in
safer and greener educational facilities, that the education
sector will work towards the continued reducing of risk at
schools and establish an ideal, yet adaptable approach to
risk management at the school level,” Ms. Paddy noted.
Addressing School Safety, Disaster
Risk Management are Priorities for
The Education Ministry By The Ministry of Education
44 Guyana Inc. 35th Edition
She said that the plan to address these issues is not
haphazard in any way. Ms. Paddy explained that, “It is a
structured, in-depth process that encompasses a variety
of approaches and synergies. The Ministry of Education
recognises the significance of risk management and
school safety in the promotion of best practices of risk
Additionally, she noted that in 2017, the following
three schools participated in a competition and were
assessed locally based on the vulnerability assessment.
These schools were Diamond Secondary, South Ruimveldt
Secondary and Tucville Secondary.
Following this competition, Ms. Paddy said that action
plans with recommendations for improving each of the
named schools’ safety and disaster risk reduction plans
Moreover, she noted that the Model Safe School
Programme is being piloted at three other schools. These
are St. John’s College, Richard Ishmael Secondary School
and Dolphin Secondary School.
She said that the long-term expectations as a
result of the training is geared at the development of
comprehensive protocols for risk management equipment
and to ensure teachers and students are trained as first
responders with basic first aid skills.
Executive Director of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams, said
that Guyana is a blessed country. He noted that save for
floods; the country is not affected by any major natural
Despite this, he reminded that Guyana is still
vulnerable since it is below sea level. He posited that
risk management and risk analysis will teach Guyanese,
especially children, how to be prepared and what to do if
certain situations arise. Dr. Adams added that with climate
change being inevitable, preparedness is necessary.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, Director
General (ag) of the Civil Defence Commission, said that
children are an important group since they are strong and
resilient, adapting to stresses that weaken most adults.
However, he noted that children are still vulnerable.
He said that educational facilities need to be retrofitted
to make the environment safe. According to the Director
General, this needs to be done at both private and public
schools with implements that are simple, applicable and
Further, he said that personnel within the school
system, including teachers, need to be trained and
equipped to protect those persons that come under their
Secretary-General of the Guyana Red Cross, Ms.
Dorothy Fraser, noted that training in the areas of risk
management and school safety is imperative so that young
people, parents and teachers can know how to prevent
disaster and administer aid.
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