PHILIPSBURG:--- The Third Caribbean Safe School Initiative Ministerial Forum, which will be taking place in Sint Maarten from 28 to 30 June 2022, has recognized youth as a key partner in advancing resilience and reducing risk, and it seeks to encourage youth to collaborate in the identification of emerging issues.
The 2022 Youth Forum under the theme “My Island, My Voice”, an event within the Third Caribbean Safe School Initiative Ministerial Forum, provided Caribbean youth with a platform in which they can build their leadership skills, and strengthen their capacity to contribute to the Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI) now and in the future.
“It is important that we engage youth in matters that concern them. We believe that the voice of youth is instrumental and their seat at the table is critical as we advance school safety,” said Hon. drs. Rodolphe Samuel, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport of Sint Maarten and incoming chair of the CSSI.
The topics for discussion in the 2022 CSSI Virtual Youth Forum were chosen based on the recommendations from the youth at the youth sesion of the 2021 CSSI pre-ministerial forum. Youth lent their voices to topics such as Inclusion, reducing the digital divide, improving school safety, fostering child protection, addressing cyberbullying, and protecting the environment, Olga Mussington-Service, School Safety Focal Point for Sint Maarten and chair of the CSSI Organizing Committee added.
During the youth forum, attendances also contributed their input to key issues to be discussed with Ministers of Education at the CSSI Ministerial Forum during the Youth Dialogue session. This surrounds how the youth believe they should be included in regional decision-making processes related to the CSSI and the implementation of the Regional Roadmap on School Safety and resilience at the national and school level.
“The education system is susceptible due to the physical condition of their infrastructure and to the social, economic and environmental factors that affect the region”, said Raul Salazar, chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean (UNDRR). “Learning losses contribute to widening gaps and inequality in the school system, the economic impacts down the track of children dropping out are enormous. We need the involvement of youth, our key players, since they must be a essential part of this transformation process in order to have safer schools and greater educational resilience.”, he added.
Youth has become a key partner in DRR, and forums like “My Island, My Voice” are important platforms in which these groups can share knowledge, engage in discussions and support each other in their efforts to build resilience and promote inclusion, reducing the digital divide, improving school safety, foster child protection, address cyber bullying and protect the environment.
This event will also provide pathways and means to support youth to surmount challenges they face when a disaster occurs and as well as a space to share knowledge on school safety and cross-cultural networking among youth within the Caribbean around school safety issues.
The Third Ministerial Forum is organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of Sint Maarten, 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), UNDRR, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The organization of the Forum is possible thanks to the financial support by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport of Sint Maarten, UNICEF, UNDRR, UNESCO and CDEMA (through funding by the Caribbean Development Bank and UNICEF).