KINGSTON — Minister of Housing, Environment, Water and Local Government, Hon Dr. Horace Chang, is pleased with the introduction of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology into schools, with approximately 146 teachers being trained to date.
"I am excited that… educators are becoming more aware that GIS is an excellent learning tool, particularly in the teaching of geography in schools," the Minister said, as he addressed the GIS Day 2011 opening ceremony at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona on Wednesday (November 16).
GIS is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and display all types of geographically referenced data.
The Minister noted that some 60 educational institutions, mainly secondary schools as well as some tertiary ones, including teacher training colleges, are now delivering GIS courses.
He stressed that this integration of the technology into the curriculum is critical, as students should not just be able to read a map and state where parishes, countries and continents are, but should be able to comprehend and relate to the rapidly changing physical and cultural environments, locally and globally.
"It (GIS technology) enables us to better understand and address the major issues and problems that our modern world now faces, including climate change, energy dependence, financial and economic markets, globalisation and local and regional conflicts," he said.
Dr. Chang commended the Land Information Council of Jamaica (LICJ), which has collaborated with the Ministry of Education to introduce GIS into schools. He also expressed the hope that the programme will continue to expose students to a technology that can help shape their lives.
Held under the theme, ‘GIS: Generating Innovative Solutions’, GIS Day is a global event for Geographic Information Systems users, vendors and the general public. It is an avenue to increase awareness of GIS and its related technologies, and provides a forum to highlight the important impact it is making in the fields of science, technology, information and humanities.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the observation of GIS Day in Jamaica. The day-long event features booths, a GIS BEE competition, a 'Think it, Map it, Solve it' competition, a treasure hunt, a world map jigsaw puzzle completion, a fashion show competition and tours of the university’s Earthquake Unit and International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS).
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter