Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley tours the Green VI garden in Paraquita Bay. The non-profit organisation is helping to plant gardens at schools around the territory as part of the BVI SMART Schools initiative. (Photo: GIS)

Fourteen Virgin Islands schools will be “safer, healthier and greener” thanks to a European Union grant worth about $1.4 million, government announced last week.

The BVI SMART Schools initiative — a collaboration between the Department of Disaster Management and the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports — is being expanded with the support of the Resilience, Sustainable Energy, and Marine Biodiversity Programme funded by the EU and implemented by Expertise France.

The latest iteration of the project, which is guided by DDM, builds on an existing partnership with the ministry by adding expertise from new collaborators, government stated.

The non-profit organisation Green VI is leading efforts to establish school gardens, conduct water and energy audits, and promote conservation on school campuses.

The BVI Red Cross is facilitating first aid training for teachers, as well as community assessments designed to bolster safety measures beyond school premises.

And HLSCC’s Centre for Applied Marine Studies is supplying coastal resilience and marine biodiversity education, teaching students to safeguard the marine environment amid climate challenges.

“RESEMBID’s financial support has facilitated a partnership to enhance our efforts at improving student safety and fostering a culture of resilience,” said DDM Director Jasen Penn.


So far, the project has included school assessments, guidance to individual schools, and campus community emergency response training, according to government.

“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.

Edward Turvill, RESEMBID senior programme manager for resilience, praised the focus on schools and students.

“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,” he said.

Mr. Turvill also commended DDM and its partners for taking a comprehensive approach to the idea of SMART Schools.

“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,” he said.

Schools involved

Participating schools include Claudia Creque Educational Centre on Anegada; Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary and Bregado Flax Educational Centre Primary and Secondary divisions on Virgin Gorda; and 10 schools on Tortola: Alexandria Maduro Primary, Joyce Samuel Primary, Francis Lettsome Primary, Leonora Delville Primary, Ivan Dawson Primary, Ebenezer Thomas Primary, Enis Adams Primary, Enid Scatliffe Pre-primary, Willard Wheatley Primary, and Elmore Stoutt High.