THE GOVERNMENT has launched the first of six High-Tech Academies designed to develop talent recognized by high-value opportunities in technology and engineering worldwide.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the goal is to make Jamaica a producer of technology and engineered solutions, not a consumer.
“Technology changes everything and as we advance and develop technology, it is the nations that develop technology, but more importantly it is the nations that own technology that own the future,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that if Jamaica is to thrive and thrive in the fourth industrial revolution, the government must produce a “new Jamaica,” which in turn will produce citizens of a new world.
Holness was speaking at the official opening ceremony for Jamaica’s first-ever Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) on Tuesday at Dunbeholden, Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine.
This will be the first of six STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) institutions and a secondary performing arts school with a total investment of US$
The development of the schools will involve a number of components including institutional strengthening, appointment of the school governing body, implementation of information and communication technology (ICT) support, teacher training in STEAM to provide the required courses and increasing teacher competence in the sector . The lion’s share of $115.2 million will be spent developing the physical infrastructure of these schools.
The first academy will be built on lands covered by the government’s Greater Bernard Lodge Development Plan on 76.62 acres set aside for community services and open space totaling 5,397.02 square feet.
Fayval Williams, Secretary of State for Education and Youth, said in her remarks that the project is one of the legacy projects the government hopes to implement for the advancement of society in the country’s 60th year of independence.
“I’m really, really excited about what this means preparing Jamaican students for current and emerging jobs and helping them develop their own innovative and critical thinking skills to explore new niches,” she said.
Williams explained that the Department of Education has seen an increase in the number of students interested in STEAM programs. She said the ministry expects to enroll about 2,400 students once construction of the STEAM Academy is complete.
Ryan Reid, Chair of the National Education Trust (NET), who is leading the project, said the six academies will be climate resilient, sustainable and technology-focused with a STEAM curriculum.
Cecelia Rowe, Principal of Innswood High School, narrates The Gleaner that she was enthusiastic about the development.
“I have always believed that there was a need for more secondary schools in this area and it is very relevant to know at this time that a STEAM school [will be implemented],” She said.
Fitz Jackson, Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Southern, stated: “Any educational development institution is something I unreservedly support…because for many of us Jamaicans, who come from humble beginnings, only through education can we break the cycle of poverty . People can achieve their dreams and ultimately our communities and Jamaica can be transformed,” he said.