Education in Emergencies Workshop for community groups held

Participants in the Education for Emergencies workshop sponsored by UNICEF and facilitated by Mrs. Ann Thomas of the Montserrat Red Cross and Dr. Sheron Burns of the Ministry of Education.

BRADES, Montserrat – “We all have a part to play in education,” Dr. Sheron Burns told participants in Wednesday’s “Education in Emergencies” workshop for community groups and government agencies.

The workshop sponsored by UNICEF was jointly facilitated by the Ministry of Education and the Montserrat Red Cross.

Dr. Burns told participants most people feel the workshop should be for teachers but in fact “learning must continue” regardless of the emergency and will involve everyone. Participants shared experiences and lessons learned in emergencies, while also identifying areas where more work is needed to ensure that the education of children can continue on Montserrat.

Mrs. Ann Thomas of the MRC said education is the most affected area when Montserrat has an emergency, such as a volcanic eruption or hurricane. She added that priority is given to other issues; schools become emergency shelters and leave children without an environment to learn in.

Everyone agreed that learning should continue but it did not have to be of the academic nature. Dr. Burns suggested that education would need to be much more informal and involve the churches and other non-governmental organizations on island.

This was the second workshop sponsored by UNICEF, the first of which was held last September. Out of that workshop, a local committee was organized called MEET, Montserrat Education in Emergencies Team.

It is hoped that MEET will be able to convene its first session between March and May to assess what activities can be implemented to ensure that education is continuous during an emergency. In the interim, a list of priority areas is being compiled to chart the way forward for the group.