(NATCOM) – Basseterre, 23 September, 2016: Economic Sustainability has been identified as a major factor in promoting the “Equipping Schools and Students for Success in Sciences Pilot Project.”
Dr. Neva Pemberton, Chief Education Planner stated at the ceremony to launch the project on September 21, “Around the world there has been increasing emphasis on the important role that careers in Science and Technology; Engineering and Mathematics or Stem Fields have on an increasingly knowledge based economy. As such generating interest and strengthening teaching and learning in these areas are a priority in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Dr. Pemberton added, “In St. Kitts and Nevis teaching and learning has been constrained by the absence of laboratories at the primary level and scarcity of supplies at the secondary level to support effective experimentation and experiential learning.” The Micro Science Pilot project is expected to provide a solution to the longstanding issue which was exacerbated by a lack of funding.
The UNESCO Micro Science Initiative is a programme that promotes effective, portable Science experimentation kits to support access to experiential learning no matter how under-resourced the learning environment may be.”
Educator and Coordinator Mr. Shelton Liburd provided an overview of the project which he referred to as multi-sectoral in its approach given the collaboration between UNESCO, The Caribbean Development Bank’s Basic Needs Trust Fund Project as well as the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“We expect that we will have more of our students pursuing stem courses at higher education levels and choosing careers in related fields,” Shelton stated, as he recorded the benefits as being increased interest; enhanced teaching skills and grasping of important scientific concepts by students.
“We are seeking to provide a framework for a practical approach which helps to bring the subject alive and arouse interest of our learners.”
Project components include procurement of kits; teacher training and follow up meetings with teachers; monitoring and assessment.
Director and representative of the UNESCO Caribbean Cluster Office Katherine Grigsby who spoke at the event said that educators have the responsibility to ensure that the class is relevant to what is happening in students’ lives and that they know how to apply it
“UNESCO Promoting Science experiments play a key role in Science Education. In a context where St. Kitts and Nevis and other countries in the Caribbean are facing unprecedented natural adversities or growing vulnerabilities which require an increased number of home grown Scientists, quality of Science Education is seen by UNESCO as exceptionally indispensable to cultivating normative and contextual solutions to challenges such as Climate Change, Food Security, and Alternative Energy that is vital for innovation and Sustainable Development” emphasized Mrs. Grigsby.
She called on “Major donors and funding partners throughout the region to join governments in expanding the affordable solutions deployment and capacity building efforts behind UNESCO’s Micro Science Project,” adding that the UNESCO concept of Micro Science is grounded in simple principles of practicality, affordability, sustainability of technical assistance Solutions that it provides to its member states.
Expounding on the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States such as St Kitts and Nevis, Minister of Education and Chairman of the National Commission for UNESCO, Hon Shawn Richards stated, “As we look towards alternative energy, it means that we are going to need more persons in those fields (Science). We have to build an economy that is not only more sustainable but one in which having garnered greater interest of students in the field of Science that they are able to return to St .Kitts and Nevis and find related jobs, not only in teaching.
The micro Science Project is expected to assist in the implementation of the national interim Science Curriculum at the primary level which places a renewed emphasis on experimentation and multi-modal forms of student assessment.
Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard said the National Commission will continue to follow up on efforts of implementing the project fully and is happy for the additional help of its partner the Basic Needs Trust Fund in making this a reality.
The project will be piloted in fourteen schools including 9 primary schools (3 Nevis/6 St Kitts) and 5 secondary schools (2 Nevis/3 St. Kitts) in St. Kitts and Nevis.