Our young people have the capacity to change civilisation and contribute to national development, once given the opportunity.

This was underscored today as Education Minister, Ronald Jones, addressed the launch of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge 2014, which took the form of a workshop for science teachers, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.

While urging all schools, both public and private, to become ???fully engaged??? in the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge, Minister Jones stated: ???The capacity is there, the intellect is there, the ability is there, and I therefore want to see them all coming forward???.

???This is an important exercise to challenge us to be better, [and] greater than we think we are. We have done so many great things already but we don???t see them as significant. We have fashioned a life, provided a course of behaviours and actions and made journeys that have done some things with Caribbean civilisation. So, don???t let us simply believe we have not??? Let???s dispel the notion that we have imported everything into our space, that???s not true,??? he added.

Noting that the Challenge meant the region had a lot more to do and a great journey to fulfill as part of the leaders of the world, he urged universities, community colleges, polytechnics and schools to help bring out this talent. ???We have to use that massive capacity of talent and the intent that is built into them to truly transform Caribbean civilisation, Caribbean development and Caribbean society,??? he stressed.

The Minister, who also bears responsibility for science, technology and innovation, stressed that Barbadians in the diaspora were doing great work, even within organisations such as NASA. And, he also reminded those gathered that as former sugar cane colonies, the nations of the region had developed technologies to deal with that industry, such as the dray cart, which was built in Barbados.

Acknowledging that the inertia in our development was as a result of ???listening to others??? rather than to ourselves, Mr. Jones called for the latter to happen again and in a more collective sense across the region. He alluded to the challenge Barbados faced of not growing its own food, adding that imports today cost the island nearly $800 million.

???When you don???t grow food, somebody controls you; controls your appetite and controls what you drink. There might be some hybrid product developed through agriculture science, through the practice of growing; let???s find it; let???s use it; let???s eat it; let us not have to [continue] bringing in the $800 million in stuff biting down into our foreign exchange capacity especially if we are not earning it??? we can do it because we have the capacity,??? said the former educator.

Meanwhile, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Barbados??? Operations at Sagicor, Edward Clarke, said the Challenge represented an opportunity for young people to make a difference and to challenge themselves.

He added: ???Engaging students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies primes the region for further technological and economic development. It is our hope that fostering young visionaries at this age will ignite an interest in innovation and arm tomorrow???s workforce with the necessary tools to help develop sustainable communities throughout the Caribbean.???


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