Minister of Education Ronald Jones is emphasizing the economic contribution of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to the Barbados economy, advising Barbadians to pursue studies in these disciplines.
In accepting a donation Wednesday morning of 144 construction kits from the British company Morphun Education for kindergarten and primary schools in the Ministry of Education’s STEM programme, Jones pointed to several areas in which Barbados was earning foreign exchange from STEM.
“There are several initiatives in Barbados you don’t normally hear of them because they’re commercial initiatives which they’re pushing ahead. In fact, Barbados exports a significant amount of pharmaceuticals at Carlisle Laboratories, a lot of them generics, but they’re exported across the region. But that is science, that is technology,” Jones said.
He also noted that while the majority of winners of national scholarships and exhibitions pursued studies in science subjects, there was need to do more to encourage more students to take up STEM subjects.
“We have to venture in and out of . . . the National Commission of Science and Technology as part of this ministry and pushing the initiatives in that area, with us also working with the University of the West Indies, particularly the faculty of Science and Technology.
“We are pushing ahead, we’re moving ahead. And we are also working with the private sector on a holistic basis,” Jones said, stressing it was important to introduce students to STEM from an early age.
“Kindergarten children, early childhood and children in the early part of primary education, even right through the entire part of primary education . . . can use these manipulators [construction kits] as part of our emphasis on STEM.”
The donation was part of an initiative by the owner and chief designer of Morphyn Education, Colin Simonds.
The company said the Morphun system “allows for greater and creative value for children, and explores flexibility of form and movement from an early age”.
Wednesday morning’s presentation was made on Simonds’ behalf by Martin Robinson, the head of political, press and public affairs at the British High Commission.
He said the gift was in observance of Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence, and also to celebrate Simonds’ 65th birthday, as well as his late mother’s many visits to Barbados.