January 15, Ambassador of Switzerland to Latvia Markus N.P. Dutly along with representatives from National Coordination Unit – Latvia Ministry of Finance, respective line ministry - Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, the Executing Agency of the project - State Regional Development Agency and the Swiss Contribution Office, responsible for the operational steering of all Swiss-Latvian cooperation projects, visited Bauska region, Latvia. The central event of the visit was the official opening ceremony at Mezotne boarding school in Bauska - one of the implementation sites of the Swiss contribution project Support for Fire Safety Measures in Local Government General Education Institutions in Latvia.
In Mezotne boarding school which provides overnight accommodation for schoolchildren, Swiss funds in the amount of about 50 thousand EUR have been utilized for the installation of a fire detection and prevention system, including voice information system and lighted evacuation signs which are substantial technological solutions for the school permitting timely prevention of fire calamity and decreasing danger and loss in case of an eventual fire outbreak. Majority of educational institutions in disadvantaged regions in Latvia are located in old buildings. Fire safety systems in such schools are installed only in case the educational institution is being renovated, however, most municipalities in rural districts lack the financial means for such renovations. Therefore, the current project helps to drastically improve fire safety in schools that cannot afford overall renovation of premises, especially premises where children stay overnight. At present, under the Swiss supported project, 118 educational institutions have received necessary funding for purchase and installation of fire safety systems.
“The aim of the project is to improve the safety of children in case of fire in general education institutions minimizing the gap between large cities and small rural villages. We chose to support children and youth as they are our tomorrow”, said Ambassador Markus Dutly. He further voiced his hope that “these projects will result in stronger contacts and collaboration between Latvian and Swiss youth. I am sure that such networking will shorten the “distance” between our two countries, not in meters but in time to build up new relationships in the future.”
Iruma Kravale, Director of Development Instruments Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, and Solvita Zvidrina, Director of State Regional Development also addressed the guests and school teachers and children, whishing them success in the future.
The overall objective of the project is to improve the safety of children in case of fire in general education institutions in peripheral and disadvantaged regions of Latvia as well as to widen knowledge about fire safety by utilising and building on Swiss experience. Specific objectives are to increase public officials and school children awareness and knowledge about danger and fire safety, partly by using Swiss experience.