For its role in promoting agricultural endeavours across the island???s schools, the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) today came in for praise from Acting Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harcourt Husbands.

He was addressing the awards ceremony at The Alleyne School in Belleplaine, St. Andrew that saw students there emerge winners of the Sir Clifford Husbands Agricultural Challenge Shield.

Lauding Sir Clifford for lending his name to the endeavour, Senator Husbands pointed out that the Society was doing a tremendous amount of work in assisting the education system in promoting values and skills necessary for our young students in today???s world.

Students heard that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education led to high paying jobs, and there was adequate evidence to suggest that those who graduated secondary or tertiary institutions with more than a passing knowledge of STEM would be at an advantage.

???The more STEM you know, the more stable your life will be,??? Senator Husbands stressed. He added that it was not about graduating more Mathematicians but rather about integrating STEM with other areas of the curricula such as agriculture in the context of science. ???So if you are in agriculture, having a background in Science will also be beneficial,??? he said.

Immediate Past Chairperson of the RCS, Dame Maizie Barker-Welch, said agriculture was extremely important to the whole world and welcomed the students??? interest in the competition. She pointed out that there were several options available in agriculture and said through their project, they had shown an understanding that there were areas other than just growing vegetables.

???We have to feed ourselves. Formerly in Barbados, agriculture was thought of as just a hoe and a fork and things of that sort; nowadays agriculture can carry you very far,??? she said.

The Sir Clifford Husbands Agricultural Challenge Shield is an annual competition where secondary school students showcase their ideas of how to make agriculture more interesting and innovative.

It was derived from an idea by the RCS, several years ago, to promote agriculture with the patron being former Governor-General, Sir Clifford Husbands, who was also passionate about agriculture. It is open to those undertaking the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Agriculture syllabus.

The competition leaves it up to students to decide on their project and to show how the use of STEM can be applied to agriculture in such a manner as would interest others in the school and community.

The School???s Garden Agriculture Project submitted by The Alleyne School was judged the winner from among 12 schools. Students grew herbs and food crops, and overcame drought conditions, pest and monkey damage, and demonstrated a keen ability to rise above challenges to achieve their goal.

In addition to the school receiving the shield, Reshan Barker also won an individual agricultural prize for his Agricultural Insect Collection, an entry judged by Entomologist with the Ministry of Agriculture, Brett Taylor.

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