Two decades after the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) introduced technology education with EDUTECH, it is set to embark on another massive investment in emerging technologies in schools.
Come September when the new school year opens, students and teachers will have devices to open up the world of robotics.
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational training Santia Bradshaw today announced a multi-million dollar investment in robotics that entails mechanical and electronic engineering, computer science and artificial intelligence.
The Education Minister said it will not be introduced on a small scale, but rather, it is to be taken to an entirely different level. “We are prepared to invest this year, the sum of $5.651 million in not only robotics equipment but ensuring that robotics is in place across all of our secondary schools. We will introduce a pilot in our nursery schools, and also in our primary schools,” she told the House of Assembly, housed temporarily at the Worthing Corporate Centre
The initiative will also be introduced at special schools and robotics clubs will be rolled out at all secondary schools Bradshaw added.
“Devices will be provided for students as well as teachers and we have a very rigourous programme designed to engage teachers in training and retraining because we do have some existing in the system presently who can teach the programme but we want to be able to give as many options as possible to our young people in the current climate to explore as much as possible the area of robotics and new technologies, “ she said
Stressing that her ministry was seeking to ensure students are equipped with the tools to go anywhere in the world to work, Bradshaw said the programme was also intended to attract scholarship and exhibition winners who excel at sciences to return home and give back to the country.
A key component of the multi-million dollar initiative for which training will begin in the coming weeks, is the introduction and upgrade of wifi connectivity across school plants.
Bradshaw noted that wifi and a lack of cabling have been stumbling blocks, delaying the use of more technology in schools.
She cited that gifts including desktop computers and laptops donated by the People’s Republic of China have not yet been deployed because of a lack of wifi connectivity.
As a result, Government has allocated $370, 550 for cabling, which will start first in secondary schools and then primary and nursery institutions.
The Education Minister also noted that the move to boost connectivity will also support Government’s plans to move towards e-testing offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council.