Montserrat: Rebirth of an Island
The volcanic eruption which started in 1995, and which made two thirds of Montserrat uninhabitable changed everything. Foremost with the mass off-island evacuation reducing native island population to fraction of pre-1995 population. It also necessitated commitment and innovation to find new life from those who remained and those returning.
The impact of the eruption has been huge. Montserrat lost its core middle and senior management workers and their families. Previous boast of being in the top educational league in the region is no longer true as standards have dropped due to inability to recruit and retain qualified teachers, and there is now a need to look afresh at our education system.
But there are also different learnings. The volcanic eruption had other effects. Montserrat now has a volcano observatory, which continues to bring world-class volcanologists and geologists to our shores.
Another effect of the volcanic eruption is the opportunity it has given Montserrat to turn from fossil fuel to geothermal energy. With aid from the UK Department for International Development we have commenced drilling and discovered enough geothermal energy resource to meet current needs. This energy resource will provide cleaner and cheaper energy and should boost the economy. Its implementation will call for an educated workforce and skills not currently employed or available on the island.
About ten years ago, a review was undertaken to find out what are the factors that would encourage Montserratians to return to safe northern part of Montserrat, not surprising education was a major factor together then with available housing and jobs. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached that level of development and this is still be a major consideration for the second generation living in the UK and elsewhere.
The Government of Montserrat has recently reviewed its policy and agenda, and has prioritized three of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Montserrat,’s objective to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – can act as a motor for sustainable development through the provision of qualified teachers and a curriculum that would equip our children to aim for a bright and sustainable future.
In Montserrat, we will in the near future play a part in the world carbon reduction whilst at the same time provide to our energy consumers cheaper energy, using geothermal and fulfilling Goal 7: to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all.
Finally, in Montserrat our economic policy is based on Sustainable Development to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.