January 23, 2024130Views
Premier the Honourable Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley visited key locations associated with the BVI SMART Schools project including Willard Wheatley Primary School, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College Centre for Applied Marine Studies, and Green VI’s Ecopark.

The Virgin Islands continues making strides to strengthen schools against the unpredictable impacts of disasters and climate change under the BVI SMART Schools initiative.

The collaboration between the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports (MEYAS) and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is being expanded with the support of the Resilience, Sustainable Energy, and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) Programme funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France.

The latest iteration of the BVI SMART Schools project, steered by DDM, builds on the established partnership with MEYAS by adding the expertise of Green VI, H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and the BVI Red Cross to reshape the Territory’s education infrastructure with resilience at its core.

Director at the Department of Disaster Management Jasen Penn said the BVI SMART Schools initiative fortifies schools against the challenges posed by climate change. He said, “RESEMBID’s financial support has facilitated a partnership to enhance our efforts at improving student safety and fostering a culture of resilience.”

The initiative is funded by the European Union at a cost of €1.3M over two years and seeks to make 14 schools across the Territory safer, healthier, and greener. The project has conducted comprehensive school assessments, provided essential guidance to individual schools, and initiated campus community emergency response training, strengthening preparedness within these educational institutions.

“What our students and teachers are learning prepares our wider community for greater resilience, which ultimately means a more prepared Virgin Islands,” Mr. Penn said.

RESEMBID Senior Programme Manager – Resilience, Edward Turvill applauded the focus on schools and students, saying, “Education stands as the bedrock of change. What we are seeing with projects in the BVI is a great effort to shift the community’s idea of what it means to be resilient and responsive to climate change.”

Mr. Turvill commended DDM and its partners for what he considers a comprehensive approach to the idea of SMART Schools. He said it is refreshing to see a coming together of partner organisations in the VI to address the core objectives of this programme.

The Senior Programme Manager said, “It shows that through this type of public-private partnership, BVI has the persons and tools to address some of the most challenging issues surrounding resilience and climate change. RESEMBID is truly proud to have the chance to facilitate such partnerships that are to the benefit of society and future generations.”

Programme partners are enhancing the legacy SMART Schools initiative to support target schools in key areas. For example, efforts to establish vibrant school gardens, conduct water and energy audits, and develop a culture of conservation within school campuses, are led by Green VI.

BVI Red Cross has put its efforts towards empowering educators and enhancing the overall resiliency of communities by facilitating First Aid training for teachers. Its community assessments continue to bolster safety measures beyond school premises.

Meanwhile, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College’s Centre for Applied Marine Studies remains dedicated to enriching student experiences through coastal resilience and marine biodiversity education, nurturing a generation equipped to safeguard the marine environment amidst climate challenges.

Schools participating in this iteration of the BVI SMART Schools initiative include Claudia Creque Educational Centre, Alexandria Maduro Primary, Joyce Samuel Primary, Bregado Flax Educational Centre Primary and Secondary Division, Francis Lettsome Primary, Leonora Delville Primary, Ivan Dawson Primary, Ebenezer Thomas Primary, Enis Adams Primary, Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary, Willard Wheatley Primary, Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary and Elmore Stoutt High School.