JIS: The Education, Youth and Information Ministry, through its Safety and Security Unit, is focusing on increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools.
Region Six Community Relations Education Officer in the Ministry, Kereen Reid-Clarke, says involvement in these groups provides opportunities for the growth and development of students.
“We believe that uniformed groups, especially the Fire Wardens Club, will foster a sense of discipline and also provide an avenue for students to learn and practise appropriate disaster and safety measures,” she notes.
Mrs. Reid-Clarke was delivering remarks at the official launch of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) Fire Wardens Club in schools, at the Greater Portmore Primary School in St. Catherine on October 26.
“The club will not only have an impact on the students but over time create a society which will be fully aware of how to manage, respond and recover from disasters,” she said.
Mrs. Reid-Clarke assured that the Ministry will continue to work with the JFB to ensure that the Fire Wardens Club initiative is available to all primary schools across the island.
Meanwhile, Region Six Safety and Security Coordinator in the Ministry, Carl Sterling, noted that focus is being placed on improving the safety and security committees in all high schools in Jamaica.
“The Ministry is committed to ensuring that we create an environment that is safe for our students to learn and for them to experience all that they can, so that they become productive members of society,” he said.
Deputy Superintendent of the JFB, James Lee, said the Fire Wardens Club represents a far-reaching initiative that seeks to engage and empower students and their parents in fire safety.
He said its launch is timely, as the JFB observes Fire Safety Awareness Week from October 22-28 under the theme ‘Empowering our People for a Fire-Safe Jamaica’.
“We are expecting other schools to come on board, so that the initiative can spread. We’re hoping that through it we can have prospective firemen and (fire)women,” he said.
Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Kenji Tobita, said his agency, which is funding the Fire Wardens Club in schools initiative, has been helping Jamaica in the area of disaster risk reduction, as the island is prone to disasters just like Japan.
He said through cooperation, JICA has dispatched disaster risk-reduction personnel to provide training in this regard.
Born out of the Disaster Risk Reduction Education in Primary Schools, the Fire Wardens Club is the brainchild of District Officer of the JFB, Heather Williams.
It is an education-based extracurricular programme in primary schools with the purpose of empowering children with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to prepare for, respond to and to recover from disasters.
The vision of the club is to develop a culture of disaster risk reduction in homes and communities towards building Jamaica’s resilience to natural disasters.
Clubs, which will require members to wear their JFB-designated uniforms, hold regular weekly meetings for an hour.
The children engage in discussions on certain topics such as natural hazards and disasters, rescue techniques, basic first aid, volunteerism, fire brigade knowledge and foot drills.
The launch was attended by several schools based in St. Catherine, including: McCook Primary, Marlie Mount Primary and Infant, Kensington Primary, Old Harbour Primary, Ensom City Primary, Independence City Primary and Crescent Primary.
Students from McCook Primary and Greater Portmore Primary participated in the display of accident rescue and the demonstration of the use of a fire extinguisher
CAPTION: Region Six Community Relations Education Officer in the Education, Youth and Information Ministry, Kereen Reid-Clarke (left), converses with Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Kenji Tobita (right), during the launch of the Fire Wardens Club in schools at the Greater Portmore Primary School in St. Catherine on October 26. At centre is Region Six Safety and Security Coordinator in the Ministry, Carl Sterling.