The Safe Schools programme

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Climate change poses a set of threats to education continuity, quality, holistic development, and overall wellbeing of the teaching and learning community. Small island developing states (SIDS) are anticipated to experience some of the greatest effects of climate change, including sea level rise, cyclones, rising temperatures, and altered rainfall patterns. This undoubtedly impacts education. 

Globally, the education sector faces multiple challenges that invite us to innovate. With every project developed, we expect to contribute to healthier, more resilient education communities to ensure both students and educators reach their full potential.
The Safe School programme, which is a collaboration between Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and OpenDevEd, constitutes a participative design-based intervention research. As a result of that, we have had the opportunity to work closely with teachers, principals, geospatial departments, youth, and women’s organizations, and many other community stakeholders to collectively think about resilience and continuity amidst crises.

What is the safe school programme?

The Safe School programme was born from a common will of both sides to understand the challenges that the region faces in terms of climate change and social vulnerability to disasters. With the purpose of ensuring meaningful and relevant information to promote resilience and wellbeing at all levels.

The programme’s main objective is to foster resilience in the education sector at different levels, so schools and communities are better prepared to face climate change-related adversities and ensure education continuity and well-being. 

The programme is developed in six Easter Caribbean Member States:

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Barbados
  3. St. Lucia
  4. St Vincent and the Grenadines
  5. St. Kitts and Nevis
  6. Dominica

What IS OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROJECT?

Our contribution to the programme extends from the collection of data to the elaboration of education plans. Below, we offer a more detailed insight into some of the areas we contributed to education and disaster risk.

Education

  • Data collection with the collaboration of multiple stakeholder at different level across the six countries
  • Develop a model safe education sector plan, with a set of recommendations that can be adapted to the Caribbean region
  • Elaborate six county-specific safe education plans, considering the particular challenges and strengths as well as the differentiated ways in which climate change strikes communities and how governments, communities, and schools respond.
    For instance, we have covered a wide range of issues, ranging from school feeding programmes to the inclusion of students with disabilities. As well as, topics such as gender stereotypes and its impact on education or teachers’ wellbeing.
    We also consider the impact of the introduction of low-tech alternatives to the education plans. This is particularly important when considering the gap between high-income and low-income families in terms of access to devices, internet, or electricity.
  • Generate a monitoring and evaluation framework, with a clear and user-friendly step-by-step guide
  • Design a plan to implement the set of recommendations targeting infrastructure, education system, and personal resilience with costs and templates to adapt to each context.

Disaster RISK REDUCTION

One of the key areas of action of CDEMA is disaster management and risk and loss reduction related to disasters and climate change. In partnership with United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT), we elaborate a set of recommendations for effective risk reduction. One of the key recommendations is the use of geospatial data. A few of the advantages that geospatial data could bring are:

  • Geospatial data can play an effective role in all phases of the disaster risk reduction and management cycle, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and response.
  • Help to identify potential hazard risk areas before a disaster, and pinpoint hazard locations to evaluate the potential risk of emergencies and disasters.
  • Maps and other geospatial outputs help communities to locate evacuation routes when a disaster hits.
  • Contribute to disaster preparedness through mapping vulnerable areas or infrastructure
  • Help to deploy emergency early warning systems using satellite imagery and weather forecasting systems
  • Assist in the immediate aftermath of disaster response and recovery by helping decision-makers understand the scope of the hazard, as well as identify the extent of damage and locations where people may be trapped or isolated.

We are committed to continue collaborating with educators, policymakers, government agencies, and other stakeholders to promote adequate responses to crises, foster resilience at all levels, and ensure education continuity despite adversity.

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Tania Elena is a junior Communication Analyst at Open Development and Education.
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Alejandra is an Analyst at Open Development and Education
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