EDUCATION Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly says the Opposition leader's suggestions for fire safety measures in schools already exist.
In a release on Thursday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar said TT can learn from the recent fire in Guyana which killed 19 children, as well as a fire in April which killed a mother and daughter in Siparia, "to prevent any similar occurrence."
Saying that Caricom had been "plunged into mourning," she said that as a parent, she can only imagine the pain and grief that the families of these (victims) were feeling.
She then called on state authorities to do fire safety and security assessments for all schools, upgrade all schools to meet necessary fire safety and security standards, develop and implement emergency and evacuation procedures specific to schools, train staff to handle emergencies for a limited period until the protective services arrive on site, as well as practise mandatory emergency and evacuation drills in all schools at least twice per term.
"Even the most basic emergency and evacuation plan, if well-rehearsed, can save your own life or your loved ones. Plans, preparation and practice will save lives and prevent tragedy," Persad-Bissessar said.
In a WhatsApp message on Thursday Gadsby-Dolly said, "These things are in existence in our public primary and secondary schools.
"Emergency evacuation plans together with drills are scheduled on a termly basis using labelled muster points."
She said training is provided to teachers through the Red Cross on a voluntary basis and they can assist in basic first aid when necessary to injured students.
"The ministry also has an Education District Health Unit for additional support to schools and fire service officials do visits where they monitor and advise schools on evacuation plans. School health and safety officers conduct risk assessments in our government secondary schools, and the district health and safety co-ordinators advise all schools on safety protocols."
She said schools have crisis management committees and health and safety committees.