The government has taken the first of many steps to reshape Jamaican society as a top creator of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), launching the first of six high-tech colleges expected to nurture students capable of harnessing high-tech of talent value opportunities in global technology and engineering fields.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the aim was to make Jamaica a producer of technology and engineering solutions, not a consumer.
“Technology changes everything, and as we progress and technology develops, it’s the country that develops the technology, but more importantly the country that owns the technology and owns the future,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that if Jamaica was to thrive and succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the government needed to produce a “New Jamaica” that in return would produce citizens of a new world.
Holness was speaking at the official milestone ceremony for Jamaica’s first Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) college in Dunber Holden at St. Catherine’s Bernard Lodge on Tuesday.
This will be the first of six STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and one performing arts secondary institutions with a total investment of US
The development of the school will include a number of components, including strengthening institutions, appointing school governing bodies, implementing information and communication technology (ICT) support, STEAM teacher training to provide the necessary curriculum, and expanding the teacher expertise sector. The bulk of the $115.2 million will be used to develop the physical infrastructure of these schools.
The first college was built on 76.62 acres of land within the government’s Greater Bernard Lodge development plan, for a total of 5,397.02 acres for social services and open space.
In her speech, Education and Youth Minister Fayval Williams said the project was one of the heritage projects the government wanted to implement to promote social progress during the country’s 60th anniversary of independence.
“I’m really, really excited about what this means for Jamaican students to prepare for current and emerging jobs and to help them develop their creative and critical thinking skills to forge new niches,” she said.
Williams said the Department of Education had recorded an increase in the number of students interested in STEAM courses. She said the Ministry of Education expects to enroll about 2,400 students once construction of the STEAM Academy is complete.
Ryan Reid, chair of the National Education Trust (NET), which is leading the project, said the six colleges will be climate-resilient, sustainable and technology-driven through their STEAM curriculum.
Innswood High School Principal Cecilia Rowe told scavenger She is excited about the development.
“I’ve always felt that there is a need for more secondary schools in this area and it’s very important to know a STEAM school at this time. [will be implemented]” she says.
Fitz Jackson, MP for St. Catharines South, said: “Any education development facility is my uncompromising support…because for many of us Jamaicans from humble backgrounds, it is only through education that we can break the cycle of poverty. … people can live out their dreams and ultimately our community and Jamaica can change,” he said.