The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) will be hosting the Third Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI) Ministerial Forum from June 28 – 30, 2022.
This event was originally planned for 2021, but due to developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to be postponed, but in its place, a virtual pre-ministerial forum took place online from March 15 – 26, 2022. The Third CSSI Ministerial Forum will now build upon the outcomes of the virtual pre-forum taking into consideration the effects of more frequent extreme weather events, such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and biological hazards such as COVID-19.
The Caribbean region is exposed to a number of natural hazards, technological as well as biological. The hazards compromise and hinder development plans and gains in educational systems throughout the Region. The systematic nature of risk has become even more evident due to the hazards with unprecedented cascading effects impacting all sectors and levels of Caribbean economies and societies.
Studies suggest that worldwide each year, 175 million children are likely to be affected by natural hazards, according to ‘Understanding the Impacts of Natural Disasters on Children,’ report, and children in the Caribbean are no exception. Children who have experienced a
disaster are much more likely to have physical health problems, mental health symptoms, lower school attendance, and trouble learning.
Research conducted by the World Bank predicts that the economic cost of lost learning stemming from COVID-19 will result in USD $17 trillion loss in lifetime earnings among today’s generation of schoolchildren if corrective action is not urgently taken.
The First Caribbean Ministerial Safe School Forum was organized in April 2017 in Antigua and Barbuda, where the Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI) was launched. This was the suggested framework to advance school safety in the Caribbean.
At the first forum, a Regional Road Map on School Safety, and the Antigua and Barbuda Declaration on School Safety, were established to guide the CSSI. During the first forum, the Antigua and Barbuda Declaration was signed by 12 Caribbean Ministries of Education. During the second forum, held in 2019 and hosted by the Ministry of Education and National Reconciliation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the number of signatories raised to 18.
The CSSI is the Caribbean’s contribution to the Worldwide-Initiative on Safe Schools (WISS) and promotes the partnership for advancing safe school implementation.
MECYS is organizing the third forum in close collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Ministry of Education and National Reconciliation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).