Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says he will be leading Ministry representatives on a series of visits to several schools islandwide, for meetings with students, teachers and administrators, to generate greater interest in mathematics and the sciences among the youngsters.
This undertaking forms part of initiatives being jointly pursued with the Ministry of Education, among other stakeholders, to instill and heighten awareness nationwide, of the pivotal role which science and technology can, and must play in advancing Jamaica's development.
Speaking at last week's launch of the 2012 Minister's Innovation Awards at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), in New Kingston, Mr. Paulwell said he is concerned at the number of students, particularly at the secondary level, who regard the sciences as difficult subjects.
"We have to find a way to get more of our young people to see the sciences, starting with Mathematics, as subject areas that they should move towards. We have to make them (sciences) far more attractive than they currently are, and how they are taught in schools,” the Minister said.
Noting that both the Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites and himself "are at one," in terms of the value and importance of the arts subjects,
Mr. Paulwell emphasised that “we now have to look at what it is (needed) to enable our country to grow and develop."
"The arts are good in certain attitudinal behavioural perspectives. But, it is only in certain categories where we do have competitive advantage that will see growth and development. We want to do some (work), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, to entice youngsters into these areas (sciences). We need now to market the sciences, and this Ministry is going to lead that effort," Mr. Paulwell said.
While expressing a desire to see more persons involved in engineering and information and communication technology engagements, Mr. Paulwell said there is also a determination to ensure that the requisite technical support is provided for areas aligned to the arts, such as the creative industry.
"That is where we are heading, and we are determined that the policy of the Government and funding will (also) have to be in alignment with that thrust,” the Minister said.
The Minister’s Innovation Awards, which is the brainchild of Mr. Paulwell, aim to enhance the government’s objectives of encouraging and promoting individual science and technology innovations creativity, imagination, effort and concomitant outcomes.
It is intended to identify, recognise, reward as well as facilitate intellectual property protection and commercialisation of innovations originating locally from persons and institutions.
The initiative's goal is to catalyse an increased and enduring wave of innovation successes, which can be tapped to support the government’s Science and Technology Policy.