NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced several ongoing initiatives to enhance national development.
Among them are a workshop on climate action and climate awareness for public school students, a project to develop an Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory, and a project for Safeguarding Living Heritage during Emergencies.
Hope Strachan, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, said the National Commission is continuing its efforts to increase visibility and to inform the public of opportunities at a recent press briefing at the Ministry of Education and Technical & Vocational Training on Monday.
She outlined the following:
Climate Change Guardians Workshop
A two-day workshop is scheduled to be held September 21-22, 2022 (tentatively) in New Providence to promote climate change awareness in public schools. UNESCO in collaboration with The Bahamas National Commission has designed a project to educate students about local and regional climate action and climate awareness among their peers. Funding is being provided by the Participation Programme of UNESCO. Students from public schools in six family islands will be invited to participate in the workshop.
Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory
UNESCO has responded to a request by the National Commission and the Division of Culture for assistance to develop a proper inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements in The Bahamas. To this end, an expert is expected to arrive in The Bahamas on September 5. The expert will provide technical assistance and hold meetings with stakeholders in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Cat Island, Exuma and Andros. Financial assistance will be requested from UNESCO after a budget is formulated for the cost of arranging the inventory.
Safeguarding Living Heritage during Emergencies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific and the Caribbean
The Bahamas is one of two Caribbean countries that have been selected for the implementation of this project developed in conjunction with UNESCO’s Living Heritage Entity, the Cluster Office and the Cluster Office for the Pacific States. Funded by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust, the project aims to provide “timely” support for communities to “mobilize their living heritage to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters”. An allocation of $100,000 has been allotted to the project, set to be implemented in the Bahamas in 2022-2024 through a partnership between the Division of Culture, the National Emergency Management Agency and the Bahamas National Commission for UNESCO. It will serve as a model for other SIDS and countries prone to natural disasters.
At the briefing, Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education & Technical and Vocational Training declared the nation’s support of UNESCO.
“We have decided that we are going to ensure that in The Bahamas that we as full-fledged members of UNESCO and will be participating fully in all of the opportunities that are available for Bahamians through the UNESCO vehicle,” Hanna-Martin.
“UNESCO has been valuable for us and has done tremendous research on a number of areas including the issue of the impact of the pandemic on learning, for young people on mental health issues and that has been very helpful in helping us in The Bahamas to form and formulate policy responses. However, we have determined that we will do all we can to accumulate our own data and as a result of that, we are building capacity in the Ministry of Education to bring in people to help us analyze data, to amass statistics, to make informed decisions that will add to the database of UNESCO in a more substantive way.
“The Bahamas will participate fully, we will contribute fully and we expect that we will rise to the occasion in this matter,” Hanna-Martin said.
During the briefing, Bahamian teachers Antonia Bain and Yolanda Samuels-Cole were recognized for their participation in an online masters training course offered by UNESCO, Blackboard Academy and the Caribbean Centre for Educational Planning at the University of the West Indies in 2021. They received electronic tablets courtesy of UNESCO.
The objective of the program is to train 10,000 teachers on how to engage with students through the use of online education tools, resources and interactive platforms as an educational response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hanna-Martin said Bain and Samuels-Cole are now able to assist in building capacity because they train the trainers.
“They will be able to help us extend the knowledge on the various issues. This is a capacity-building thing that we are discussing today. We are now back face-to-face in classes but we know that virtual reality is a valuable tool even in the best of times, not just in a crisis as we face in a pandemic. As archipelagic people we will see how we can capitalize on this avenue for delivery of information, education and knowledge,” she added.