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The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport holds a consultation meeting for the Mid-term Resilience Plan with critical stakeholders as part of the National Recovery Plan 2017-2019

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On October 23rd, 2017, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) held a consultation meeting for the Midterm Resilience Plan. The aim of the meeting was to contribute to the National Recovery Plan (NRP) of St. Maarten in the area of education, culture, youth and sport. Participating stakeholders included schoolboards, UNICEF, sporting organizations, culture and heritage foundations, day care centers, youth organizations and representatives from the Ministry ECYS and other Ministries. The meeting consisted of a presentation and break-out sessions.

The Honorable Minister Silveria Jacobs addressed stakeholders commending them on the progress made to reopen schools and provide care for staff, students and all those employed at the Ministry ECYS. Minister Jacobs also focused on the challenges ahead and the need to continue all priority recovery efforts in close consultation with partners in order to truly make use of this opportunity to build St. Maarten Better, build St. Maarten Stronger, with an understanding of the key role Education, Culture, Youth and Sports okays in the process. It is the people who will make the difference – the Ministry is happy to give the people a say in our recovery and resilience plan moving forward.

 The meeting

During the first part of the meeting a presentation was given by the Secretary General of the Ministry ECYS, Ms. Jorien Wuite. The first part of the presentation focused on the strategy, with key international recognized elements as: resilience, protection, participation, preparedness, ICT and communication. Resilience, as the capacity of children, teachers, families and communities to anticipate and recover from shocks and threats such as hurricane IRMA. The need to protect students’, teachers’ and children’s psychosocial well-being, the protection of artifacts, education- culture- and sports facilities. The importance of community participation and partnerships, and the need for collection and sharing of information (ICT) and communication to the public, to ensure preparedness and response systems such as safe school plans and education, culture, youth and sport facilities disaster management plans.

The second part of the presentation focused on the prioritization of the Ministry ECYS Midterm Resilience Plan within an early, mid- and long-term recovery phase. Stakeholders were asked to use the key strategic elements and whether the priorities that focused on prioritization within an early, mid- and long-term recovery phase. Stakeholders were asked whether the priorities that were summarized, based on the preliminary consultations, were accurate and covered projected expectations for urgent improvements before the next hurricane season and June 2019. In addition, the scope of impact and damages post-Irma and the current state and progress of Ministry ECYS were discussed.

 Objectives
In the second half of the meeting, stakeholders were strategically grouped in break-out sessions to discuss and further sharpen critical priorities, and the level of urgency for rebuilding within the next three to twelve months. The groups were given 45 minutes to propose critical issues such as:

  • Leadership, coordination and communication
  • Immediate needs (early recovery < 3m)
  • Recovery and resilience (Mid-term recovery)
  • Rehabilitation and construction (long-term recovery > 12 m)
  • Finance and accountability

At the end of the break-out session, consensus was met to build more flexible and resilient school infrastructures and facilities, utilize existing local (retired) expertise, establish disaster preparedness and response (training) plans that will embody the physical, social and psychological well-being of students and staff within the education, youth and sport realm. Stakeholders also expressed the need for continued partnerships and a recruitment program for (local) teachers. Key suggestions to promote safety and security was brought forward to help the community, recognize, register and salvage cultural heritage, protect children and parents, promote use of innovative constructions and solutions, and to conduct trainings that will help citizens better identify child abuse or other anxiety symptoms taking place within the community. There is also a need to promote the importance of balancing work and family commitment and contributions to children’s needs and society. All participants agreed to focus on vulnerable groups in society and their needs. The schoolboards agreed on the importance of afterschool programs, special curriculum for environmental studies, (vocational) education, sport and artistic activities for youth and students, as well as active and responsible citizenship (i.e. against looting) and labor needs.

Moving forward

The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport expressed her excitement and appreciation and gave heartfelt thanks to all stakeholders and Ministry ECYS’ staff for the feedback and responses received. A follow up meeting will be organized once the Midterm Resilience Plan advances to a final version that Minister Jacobs will present and discuss with the workgroup for inclusions to the National Recovery Plan.

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