The harnessing of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is vital to the growth and rebalancing of Caribbean economies.
Assistant Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Michelle Stephens, pointed this out today as she addressed the launch of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge 2014, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.
???They underpin our abilities to diversify and advance industries and to innovate competitive products,??? said Ms. Stephens, who is responsible for Business Development in the Corporate Strategy Business Development Unit.
Noting that students who pursue these subjects are able to command high- paying jobs, she, however, stated: ???We want these subjects, not to be viewed singularly as a gateway to high income, but rather, as vehicles to critical thinking, problem-solving and collaborative working.???
Ms. Stephens revealed that over the last three years, CXC had seen a marginal increase in the total number of students registered for STEM subjects. She said in 2013, this represented 32 per cent of the total cohort at the CSEC level and 34 per cent at the CAPE.
???If we are to pilot our own futures, these numbers are still too small. CXC therefore sees this Sagicor Visionaries Challenge as a catalyst in shifting the approach to teaching and learning, from solely textbook-based, to experiential, relevant and current to the Caribbean circumstances,??? she stressed.
Alluding to the recent win by Trinidad-based North Gate College in the Cubes In Space global contest as testimony that potential for global competitiveness in the field of STEM was in the Caribbean, she added that the Challenge would nurture potential by using the CXC syllabus in a creative and exciting way.
This year???s competition was launched with a teachers??? workshop to sensitise local schools to the framework and expectations of the competition.??In 2013, a team from St. Winifred???s School won the title of National Champions with their entry entitled: Healthier Lungs with the help of the CARbonionser.
Team member, Richard Estwick and teacher, Peter DeFreitas, were treated to a trip to STEM-related attractions in Florida, including the Museum of Science and Industry, Disney???s World???s EPCOT theme park and the Kennedy Space Centre.??The 2014 Challenge winner will be given a similar experience.