Government should not be burdened with the task of funding projects for the development of youth in key areas of national importance.
This is the attitude which resulted in an over US$200,000 investment in local environmental and agricultural projects in 43 schools across the country, which have now started to bear fruit.
David Bynoe, National Coordinator of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program (SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), financier of the island-wide programs, was speaking today at the opening of the “Living Learning Lab” at the Roland Edwards Primary School in St Peter.
The lab facilitates the use of various technologies, introducing students to sustainable farming techniques and promoting farming as a viable career option from an early age.
“This is a project that brings several civil society organizations together, this is a project that brings several communities together, that can have a national impact and one that can take you across the Caribbean and across the world,” said Bynoe, who lauded government’s efforts to develop the vital industry, while adding that the administration alone could not shoulder the heavy burden.
“This project demonstrates that civil society matters. There are times when the resources of government are not going to be enough to ensure that you get what you need and that is where civil society and also our business partners from the private sector had to come on board and ensure that you get what you need, because you are indeed the future of Barbados.
“You can see that parents, teachers, family and students are all working together and that’s a social component on which you can’t put a tangible value. There’s also the economic component in terms of the amount of revenue that can be generated at schools from these initiatives. This has served to bring income to the school that can be used for developmental initiatives.”
The program has engaged 282 and 1,109 students from secondary schools and primary respectively from across the island.
“We can probably agree that children like yourselves deserve the chance to leave Barbados and go to another country and experience what it is to do garden projects in other countries. So I envision that we shouldn’t only go regional, but that we should take some students and a couple teachers and see what is being done in other parts of the world,” he added.
CIBC First Caribbean was also a major contributor to the project at Roland Edwards school, donating over Barbados $30,000 to the development of the primary school’s agricultural projects. CEO of the regional bank, Colette Delaney was impressed with the progress made by the school.
“It’s quite a scientific project. The science behind it is phenomenal. Even I have learned something new here today. It’s just great for the kids to be able to learn how to grow things and ultimately, we hope that it gives them a perspective on what agriculture is and what it could mean…encouraging people that there are other careers outside of the standard careers and so the science behind agriculture might be the way to go.”
She added, “We’re delighted to help the school. They’ve done a phenomenal job,” said Delaney, who added that the bank was rolling out a similar program in St. Kitts-Nevis, later this year.