As it seeks to equip young people to function effectively in a 21st century economy and society, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) is rolling out its Human Resource Development (HRD) 2030 strategy and is currently examining a number of issues relating to the regional education system.CARICOMThis is being done at the 38th meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Education hosted at the Caricom Headquarter, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.Over the two days, Education Ministers and other stakeholders from across the region will be focusing on measures to ensure the successful implementation of the HRD 2030 Strategy, which is a long-term regional policy framework endorsed by Heads of Government in 2017 to lead the development of human resources in Member States.High on the agenda of issues is re-conceptualising schooling and learning, with a focus on establishing safe and healthy learning communities in the region.Caricom’s Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque pointed out at the opening ceremony of the COHSOD meeting on Wednesday that establishing safe and healthy schools is being advanced as a means to address violence in schools.He noted that safe schools promote the protection of students from violence, exposure to weapons and threats, theft and bullying, as well as the sale and use of illegal substances on school grounds.“Data on school-based violence in the Caribbean have revealed increasing incidences of violence in both primary and secondary schools. School-based violence has been associated with poor attendance, decline in performance, high drop-out levels and decreased academic achievement. Low educational attainment is associated with poor employment opportunities and crime and violence, which ultimately impacts on sustainable development of the region,” he stated.To this end, Ambassador LaRoque said the COHSOD meeting will look at results from three complementary strategies which are being implemented to address this challenge.“These are aimed at improving the schools’ environment, as well as strengthening social and life skills among students, their peers and families,” he added.Meanwhile, Education Minister Nicolette Henry underscored the importance of having an enabling environment for young people. She explained that their experiences in the school system is also impactful since such exposure provides specific support in making individual behaviour choices, such as how to handle anger, when to become sexually active and what to eat.On this note, Minister Henry posited that it is critical for the discussions at the two-day COHSOD meeting to be centred on how to better prepare students, and even parents, to be able to contribute to that “enabling environment”.“This not only addresses the importance of parent education programmes but brings a wider cross-section of society into play as it requires a community-based participatory approach that challenges many sections of our community to step up, including the mass media and entertainment industry to be more responsible in their contribution to socialisation of our young people. We have continually reinforced the importance of all stakeholders in the education of our children. It does takes a village to raise a child,” the Education Minister contended.Additionally, she noted that the Council needs to also examine recreation and positive outlets for youthful energies, as well as appropriate public policies to help provide an environment which facilitates positive behaviour.The regional officials’ examination of school-based violence comes on the heels of two female students of the Tagore Memorial Secondary School on the Corentyne, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) being involved in a violent fight last week.The incident has left a 15-year-old traumatised and embarrassed after she was badly beaten and her hijab ripped off by her fellow schoolmate, while others watched on.This is not the first time such an incident occurred. Back in March, also in Berbice, a video had surfaced with a student of the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) beating three of his schoolmates with a belt in a classroom.In the past, such violence in schools have ended fatally or with serious injuries. Only in February this year, a 15-year-old student of Covent Garden Secondary School, East Bank Demerara, was stabbed during an altercation with his classmates.Meanwhile, between 2017 and 2018, at least three other students ended up in the hospital with stab wounds sustained during fights steaming from schools.