Secondary school students are being roped into developing critical policies for the island’s growth in the areas of technology and renewable energy.
Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications and Energy Senator Darcy Boyce said that over the past few weeks he has been “pestering” his staff “to get the views of young people in this country on how to drive greater technology use, both in energy and in telecommunications”.
Addressing a youth energy forum on Sustainable Energy: Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, Boyce said too often decisions were made without getting the views of the youth, when they were the ones with a natural knack for new technologies and social media.
The forum, which was put on by the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, was designed to inform students about progress in renewable energy and explore some of the areas associated with sustainable energy, while providing insight into the development of the industry and possibly where it will be in the coming years.
Boyce said given young people’s great appreciation for technology, they were the ones who “are going to move forward this country in the next 50 years” and it was therefore critical to get their input now.
“Many of the decisions that are taken in respect of technology in the country, are taken by the people my age . . . But what has happened over the years is that we have got more and more technology [and] you young people are born with this stuff in your genes,” Boyce told the participants.
Zeroing in on the island’s thrust to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel and expand the renewable energy sector while reducing energy usage, Boyce said one
sure way to achieve the targets was to get more young people involved through the use of technology and social media.
“The point is, whatever we do in technology, whatever we do in this country in the next 50 years, you have to do it. You have to lead it [and] you have to conceive it. We might as well get used to having you make inputs into this process of conceiving how we go forward, of figuring out the strategies we should use to implement what we need to make Barbados better and stronger,” Boyce told the students.
“We are going to need a really strong communications package to get out to all the people about how we use energy, how we change out the lights and so on. And you, young people, know how to reach a lot of people in ways that [the less technologically savvy] do not have a clue about. Some of us know how to tweet and use other social media, but that is one way right away that the young people can help us get out the message about saving energy.”
Boyce urged the students not to be afraid to share their thoughts on what they believed should be done to drive the island’s energy and technological growth, adding that he was expecting a report at the end of the one-day conference.
The minister said once he received the report, consideration would be given to those ideas that were workable.
“There are things that we have not thought about that I am sure are buzzing through your heads. And I want you to tell my permanent secretary and the people in the ministry what those things are,” he said.