Hundreds of Students Attend GIS Day Exhibition


Over 500 students from schools across the length and breadth of Jamaica turned out for the 6th annual Geographic Information Systems (GIS) day exposition, held on November 17 on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.
The huge turnout was testimony to the growing popularity of the GIS Education in Schools Programme, which was launched in February 2002, through the collaborative efforts of the Ministries of Land and Environment and Education, Youth and Culture and the Land Information Council of Jamaica.
The programme was introduced to increase students’ awareness of GIS technology, which is a collection of hardware, software and data designed to efficiently capture, store, integrate, update, modify, analyse, create and display geographically referenced information.
With GIS, any topic that involves locations can be explored and it also allows the bringing together of disparate data from diverse fields. “I want to salute the teachers who brought out so many students. We really have proof that we have a future in the use of this type of technology, because students are signing on to it,” said newly appointed Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land and Environment, Donovan Stanberry at the opening ceremony.
He further stated that the GIS Education in Schools Programme provided an opportunity for teachers of geography to “breathe new life and vigour” when teaching the “important” subject. “My only regret is that the programme is not as widespread in terms of penetrating rural schools,” he lamented. “We have limitations in terms of staff, but one of the things I want to ensure is that, the progamme will penetrate the length and breadth of the country, especially in rural areas,” the Permanent Secretary vowed.
Over 35 schools have signed on to the programme, with over 66 teachers trained in GIS technology and its applications. These schools have benefited from the programme through the receipt of GIS software, training in the use of the technology and the provision of technical material including books.
“It is a growing industry (worth) over US$10 billion according to market surveys and it grows at 15 per cent per annum. This is phenomenal. You students can take a cue from that and position yourself in terms of career objectives,”.
Mr. Stanberry told the rapt young audience.Meanwhile, Barbara Allen, Director of Planning and Development in the Ministry of Education said that the GIS Education in Schools Programme had the potential to boost the country’s geography programme.
She noted that GIS fitted into the Ministry’s framework of using technology to enhance the teaching learning process. “The feedback so far has been positive,” she said.
The goal of GIS day is to increase awareness and educate children and adults about GIS technologies and demonstrate real world GIS applications that contribute to improvements in communities and lives.

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