Workshop on Science, Tech education kick-starts economic diversification in Caribbean

Last week at the third annual Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) workshop, enthusiastic professionals from the Region and the Diaspora, met for two days at the Grand Coastal Hotel along with teachers and students from Guyana, to discuss practical ways to promote diversification in Caribbean economies.

A release from the Ministry of Education said that third annual Carib-bean Science Foundation (CSF) workshop with the theme, “Stimulating Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Science and Engineering,” was organised in collaboration with the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innova-tion.

The mission of the CSF, established in 2010 as an independent non-profit non-governmental organisation, is to assist the diversification of the Region’s economies by promoting education re-form in Science, Techno-logy, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to stimulate technology-based entrepreneurship.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, in opening the workshop, underscored the value of harnessing science and technology for the development of the Region. Both he and Minister of Education Priya Manickchand emphasised the importance of collaboration and cooperation across institutions and sectors throughout the Region, as well as networking with the Diaspora to encourage and facilitate science and technology advances.

The release said that the recent approval of Guyana’s National Science and Techno-logy policy was highlighted by Navin Chandarpal, Science and Technology Advisor to the President, as a national milestone in elevating awareness of the importance of STEM education reform.

Dr Chelston Brathwaite (Barbados Ambassador Desi-gnate to China, and Director General Emeritus of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture) focused on the importance of food security, the use of technology in the expanded agricultural sector to increase food production levels in the Region.

Many students and teachers from high schools in Guyana fully participated in the workshop. The students posed some of the most difficult questions to the speakers.

Under the supervision of Petal Jetoo of the Ministry of Education and her team of Guyanese scientists, the students also got the opportunity to carry out experiments using micro-science kits provided by UNESCO. The students had nothing but praise for this hands-on learning experience, the release added.

Three Guyanese students spoke about their recent experiences with CSF programmes when the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge and the Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engine-ering (SPISE) were presented.

STEM curriculum and modernisation updates, with the main objective of making science fun for the students were also featured.

Teachers were encouraged to use examples drawn from local re-sources and needs and inquiry-based science approaches. The use of digital e-learning was also emphasised.

Other subjects covered included the need for more national science fairs, math Olympiads and science museums. A panel discussion on the wide range of career options in the STEM fields was well-liked by the students.

At one session, the requirements for the launch of a high-tech electronics start-up company were demystified with examples showing how, in the Internet era, the materials and components needed could be easily sourced worldwide.

The 2013 CSF Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Professor Maya Trotz of the University of South Florida, Petal Jetoo of the Ministry of Education, Sagicor Financial Cor-poration, and Sagicor Life Caribbean.

Key sponsors of the workshop included the Carib-bean Examinations Council, the Organisation of American States, the government of Canada, Unesco and Sagicor.

According to the release, individuals or organisations interested in supporting Caribbean Science Foundation projects may donate at http://caribbeanscience.org/donation/ or send inquiries to Professor Cardinal Warde (warde.csf@gmail.com).

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