Through its Education Ministry’s Science Unit, Guyana has been designated the coveted role of lead agency to execute a sub-regional United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Project.
The implementation of this project will be done through Guyana’s National Commission for UNESCO in close collaboration with UNESCO’s Kingston, Jamaica Cluster Office. And one of the key outputs will be the development of a regional implementation plan for the Global Micro-science Experiments Project that will be developed for all Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) territories.
Guyana’s National Focal Point on Microscience – Ms Petal Punalall-Jetoo, has been assigned as Project Coordinator. Punalall-Jetoo currently holds the portfolio of National Science Coordinator attached to the Science Unit of the Education Ministry’s Kingston, Georgetown, National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).
The UNESCO-implemented venture is being touted as a Caribbean joint project that attracts involvement from Guyana, Belize, and St Lucia. According to the National Science Coordinator, Guyana was given the lead role status because of its successful implementation of a UNESCO-spearheaded Science Education initiative.
The UNESCO initiative was in fact premised on a need to arrest a noticeable decline in youths’ interest in the Sciences.
Jetoo pointed out that a steady decline in this regard has long been recognised as a cause for concern. And according to her, the aim of the initiative is to reverse the prevailing trend of Science enrolment.
“In a world that is increasingly shaped by Science and Technology, the team recognises this and has made it its mission to not only spread education, but to make an interest in the Sciences a prominent and lasting feature wherever it is offered.”
Jetoo disclosed that one of the approaches utilised by UNESCO to achieve its goal, has been its Global Micro-science Experiments Project, which provides developed and developing countries alike with new teaching tools. This Project, she explained, is a hands-on science education venture that gives primary and secondary school students as well as university students the opportunity to conduct practical work in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, using kits that come with booklets.
As such, the Project is geared at contributing to capacity building in areas where limited to no laboratory facilities are available. And Jetoo noted too, that the experimental techniques that can be covered on a micro-scale include everything from separating the components of mixtures to measuring rates of reactions between chemicals.
With Guyana in the lead to execute the sub-regional project, over 90 secondary schools have been equipped with micro-science kits for Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This expansion was facilitated through funding from Government, which in fact represents follow-up support from UNESCO’s Kingston, Jamaica Cluster Office.
The initial target of the project was 30 schools, but because of support from Government, an additional 60 were added. This, according to Punalall-Jetoo, was as a direct result of the input and support of Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand.
It is expected that a total of 12 countries will benefit from the project. These countries are: Belize, Trinidad, St Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Guyana.
The strategic mission of the project will mainly focus on sharing of best practices, curriculum development, capacity building, and adaptation of resource materials between countries.
Jetoo said that the major thrusts will be on the provision of training for science teachers in the CXC territories and UNESCO Member States with a study tour which Guyana is expected to spearhead in the near future.
Additional training workshops are planned in St Lucia and Belize to immediately initiate pilot projects in these countries which will mirror the Guyana model as part of this continued project.
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