…Capacity building across Caribbean seen as key
Years after Guyana became the first country in the Caribbean region to successfully
implement the Global Micro-Science Experiments Project; its successes will be used as a model for the rest of the Caribbean as UNESCO launches the sub-regional component of the project.
During the launch of a two-day workshop to share Guyana’s best practices with other Caribbean nations, the importance of building capacities in the field of science was touted as one of the main objectives of the project in the Caribbean.
Representatives from a number of countries including Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago were present for the workshop.
Head of the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Jennifer Cumberbatch, said that the workshop comes at a time when it has been recognised that science education is necessary as the world is being increasingly shaped by science and technology.
She said, too, that quality basic science education is indispensable and necessary for innovation and sustainable development. She added that Guyana has recognised the importance of science education in fostering national development.
She said that micro-science kits had been previously distributed to enhance the science field through these “portable laboratories”.
The expansion of the programme outside of Guyana was spearheaded by Inge Nathoo, Secretary General of Guyana’s National Commission for UNESCO. Nathoo, who deemed the project as her “baby”, partnered with Belize and St. Lucia to push the expansion to UNESCO.
According to Caroline Auguste of the St. Lucia National Commission for UNESCO, her country’s collaboration with Guyana is a crucial component in introducing the micro-science initiative to schools in St. Lucia. She said that the role of Science and Technology in advancing socio-economic growth is increasingly being recognised. This recognition, she said, is the key to sustainable development in developing countries.
“In order to develop solutions to challenges related to climate change, food security, and alternative energy, increased investment in the development of science and technology becomes a national imperative,” Auguste said.
However, she said, the challenge of budgetary constraints face many regional governments. She said this challenge causes the level of development prior to the development of the science field to remain “largely inadequate”.
She said, too, that investments in infrastructure and materials to develop fully functioning and well-maintained labs in schools are limited.
“The micro-science project is therefore an alternative and provides schools with new teaching tools and techniques which can help to significantly enhance teaching capacities,” Auguste said.
Similarly, Rudolph Anthony of the Belize National Commission for UNESCO emphasised the importance of capacity building through the UNESCO project. “This is a great opportunity for us to enhance the teaching of science to high school students so as to better equip them in their CSEC School based assessment components,” Anthony said.
He added that the goal is to improve scientific literacy by increasing the number of high school students wanting to study science subjects and by allowing students to be exposed to more experimental skills.
He admitted that he had initially been clueless about the project but was nonetheless glad to have been invited by Guyana to help implement the project in the region.
Years ago, the Micro-Science Experiments Project was initiated in countries in Africa where schools were too poor to have full laboratories. Instead, students at the secondary and tertiary levels were presented with portable labs to compensate.
Years later, in 2011, Guyana and Jamaica were selected by UNESCO’s Kingston, Jamaica Cluster Office to be the first Caribbean countries to implement the project. Though the project failed in Jamaica, Guyana has been making tremendous strides in the Science field and is now being used as a model.
The two-day workshop will touch on a number of topics including challenges in Science Education in the Caribbean, better understanding the micro-science kits, and linking micro-science experiments with the inquiry-based science education.
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