Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney, and two primary school students taking a look at the contents of one of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) kits following the presentation today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney, has described BHP’s donation of 100 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) kits as “timely”, as her Ministry is actively placing increased emphasis in this area.

Ms. McConney made the comments today as she accepted the kits from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Business Development, Andrew Gittens, who presented them on behalf of Minister Kerrie Symmonds. The STEM kits will be distributed to primary school students across the island.

The Minister said: “The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training recognises the need for a paradigm shift in the way that education is delivered in this country.  It is with the need for this necessary shift in mind that a multi-pronged approach is being used to address relevant aspects of the education system as it relates to STEM.

“To date, we have made strides by introducing Coding and Robotics into the nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary curricula.  Additionally, in the coming months, we will have an IDB-funded pilot project in specific nursery schools that will focus on teaching and learning of STEM, using the play-based approach, that is, making learning fun.”

Ms. McConney noted that her Ministry had evidence of how using STEM could significantly promote meaningful, relevant and authentic engagement of students.  

STEM, she pointed out, affords students of all ages the opportunity to learn, using an interdisciplinary approach designed to not only provide sound cognitive grounding in the four disciplines, but also to build specific competencies, help them to apply skills and hone their interpersonal capacities.

“The utilisation of these STEM kits in our existing primary science classes has the ability to maximise the potential of all students, regardless of their ability, psychological development or socio-economic background. This is consistent with our mission for education in Barbados – where all students have a chance for quality outcomes,” she indicated.

Ms. McConney said her Ministry was fully aware of the role that teachers must play as open-minded, creative facilitators of learning.  She stressed that the Ministry would continue to encourage teachers to include new age technologies, such as green technologies, in their teaching delivery.

She listed some other areas of focus for teachers, and explained that this was being done in an effort to boost the authentic student experiences and produce well-rounded teachers, free and equipped to be creative in facilitating quality learning and outcomes.

“It is our intention that reform of the education system will produce more technologically savvy students, grounded in citizenry, who can move from idea to enterprise their home-grown solutions to local, regional and international problems,” the Minister outlined.

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