Paving a way for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in Barbados, Sagicor Life Inc. launched the third year of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge at the Olympus Theatres.
The challenge which is for children aged 11 to 18 years, will be commencing in April 2016, with competition entries opening from January.
Speaking at the launch, Acting Minister of Education Harcourt Husbands stressed that STEM was the way forward in gaining employment opportunities and also the country’s development.
“As we go about the task of promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the school curricular and in the society generally, there is a tendency…just to limit what we intend to do to the issue of producing more mathematicians or producing more engineers.
“As important and as good as that is I think that we are going much deeper than that. The entire aim is the application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the development of Barbados,” Husbands said.
“While exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics is important in itself…what is even more important is how we use these things for the development of society.”
The Senator also argued that while the arts and languages are of importance, special attention must be made to the developments in the areas of science, technology and mathematics.
“I think as we develop this project and expose more and more young people to science, technology, engineering and mathematics work, then I think our future is assured,” he admitted.
Also in attendance, Chief Operating Officer of Sagicor Life Inc., Edward Clarke added that initiatives such as Sagicor’s Visionaries gave youth the opportunity to look beyond their stratosphere and widen their thinking.
“In science, technology, engineering and mathematics, that’s the future of the region…it doesn’t cost us a lot to come up with the innovative thinking. We have some very brilliant young people in the region and if they do more innovative thinking and be allowed to widen their scope [and] give them the opportunities,” Clarke noted.
Through the Visionaries program, Clarke argued that individuals are given “the opportunity to think differently, think wide, far and beyond [their] normal thinking pattern” and be awarded for it.
Marketing Officer for Sagicor Life Inc. Folayan Taitt, revealed that many of the participants were enthusiastic about the challenge and it could get very competitive between the contestants.
“Everybody seems to be enthusiastic about the competition. The type of initiative it is, because it helps students really look at problems not just in a text book but in a real life scenarios, where you ask them to look at their schools, communities and the types of problems that they have” she explained.
Winners of the Sagicor Visionary Challenge will get to go to Tampa Florida where they will take a tour of NASA, the Museum of Science and Industry and Epcot Centre at Disney World.(KK)