Remarks by Starret D Greene
OAS Representative, St. Kitts and Nevis
Workshop on School Safety
OAS Sponsored Natural Disaster Management and Mitigation Project for Nevis

It is a good feeling to be in Nevis again and it is refreshing to be at Long Point. The quiet and peace of Long Point, scenes of green vegetation on the
landscape and the beauty of the Caribbean Sea in close proximity can be likened to good medicine. You can therefore understand my pleasure at
being here.

Let me also join with the speaker before me in extending a very warm welcome to all participants. I am glad you survived the weekend and that you
purposed in your heart to be here. It is good to see all of you.

At the outset I wish to express my appreciation to the organizers of this workshop on School Safety. I should single out the Director of the Nevis
Disaster Management Department, Mr. Lester Blackett and his Staff to include Project Officer and Course Coordinator, Mr. Brian Dyer. It is right that I
also recognize the other functionaries within the various Ministries and Departments of the Nevis Island Administration, whose collaboration and direct
input into this event made it possible.

Mr. Blackett, who spearheaded the design of the OAS/FEMCIDI Sponsored technical cooperation project, entitled “Natural Disaster Management and
Mitigation Project for Nevis”, included in the execution plan a School Safety Workshop. I am pleased that this activity has created the opportunity for
the OAS to join forces with the United States Agency for International Development, through the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFSA),
to put in place a program for School Safety in the Federation.  In this connection, I wish, on behalf of the OAS, to express my gratitude to Mrs. Audrey
Mullings, consultant with USAID/OFA, and her expert team for collaborating with the OAS and the National Emergency Management Officials in both
St. Kitts and Nevis, to resurrect the School Safety Programme.

Last week, the United States Office of Foreign Assistance in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), began the
process of reactivating the School Safety Programme, in this twin-island Nation. That event, held on St. Kitts, as well as this workshop in Nevis should
be viewed as both sides of a penny. I am pleased that the OAS and USAID/OFDA are combining their resources to help the Federation’s schools put
in place the requisite safeguards that, among other things, will help to mitigate disasters, whether they are natural or man made.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When consideration is given to the negative effects of and fallout from natural disasters, it is understood, by many, that children are among the most
vulnerable in our communities. Consequently, they are the ones that tend to be most impacted.

For this and other compelling reasons, it is the responsibility of society to protect its children and to always ensure as well their complete safety
during life threatening emergencies.

It is therefore imperative that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has in place a school safety program.

The OAS contends, and I believe that my organization will get the support of the USAID/OFA, that such a program should be

(a)        Appropriately designed to take into consideration the peculiar circumstances and special characteristics of this Small Island Developing State,
namely St. Kitts and Nevis;
(b)        well publicized through an effective public education campaign;
(c)        fully understood by school administrators and teachers;
(d)        should have the input and support of teachers, parents and the school community;
(e)        tested at regular intervals;
(f)        sufficiently flexible;
(g)        adequately funded;
(h)        easy to implement or execute; and a programme that
(i)        can boast the support of all stakeholders, who make up the disaster management, mitigation and response community in the Federation.

I am sure that our esteem facilitators will elaborate these and other issues during the next three days.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We know that drills and related exercises, conducted at regular intervals, are critical to saving lives during real emergencies. It follows that when
children know what to expect and how to react during times when disaster strike, there is likely to be less confusion, reduced panic, decreased fears
and little uncertainty.

Therefore, it seems right to expect that once a school safety program is developed, school authorities will assume the responsibility to carry out mock
exercises, and to do so without the urging of the Ministry of Education. The OAS is of the view that activities of this nature will help to determine the
effectiveness of the programme, in terms of keeping the school population secure during the times when it really matters.

It is right that we prepare our children to respond appropriately to circumstances and in situations that threaten their wellbeing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

None of us wish to be adversely affected by natural disasters. However, the frequency of their occurrence together with their acute intensity, are
factors that challenge us to be always on the alert. When we are in a state of readiness, we are better positioned to minimize the negative effects of
disaster on our environment and we can significantly reduce the threat to our very survival as well.

It is now a fact that during hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters, schools, churches, civic centers and other public buildings are used as
shelters to house members of the community. I wish to emphasize that it is important that the integrity of these structures are sound, especially school
buildings.

In closing,

I am strongly of the view that a school safety program should become integrated in the national education curriculum in the Federation. It should be
tested regularly to ensure that children are acquainted with its various components and to sensitize them of the need for full compliance should a
disaster strike.

Natural disasters are with us to stay. However, there are critical things we can do to minimize the effects on our environment and on our existence.
The OAS is pleased that the activity held last week in St. Kitts and this event that commences today will ensure that the School Safety Program
become an essential component of the Federation’s disaster preparedness, mitigation and response regime.

I believe that this activity will prove most useful to all participants and please do not hesitate to bring your insights and ideas to the table.

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen!
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