Private-sector entities are being encouraged to invest in the establishment of a national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centre, which will prepare students to compete on a global scale.
The move aligns with the Government’s efforts to establish six STEM academies across the island.
Glen Christian, chairman of the Cari-Med Group of companies, contended that the Government cannot do it alone.
“As businesspersons, it is in our own self-interest to support these efforts, not as a charity but as an investment,” he said.
Christian was speaking at a ceremony to officially launch the new Cari-Med distribution centre in Bernard Lodge, St Catherine on Friday (January 27), which was attended by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Christian and Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson, chairman of the National Baking Company (NBC) Foundation, are spearheading a ‘STEM for Growth’ taskforce, which aims to entrench STEM education in the education system, including building the STEM centre.
Christian said his foundation is currently sourcing 10 acres of land to construct the centre and purchase equipment, which is estimated to cost approximately US$45 million.
Already, the NBC Foundation has pledged J$170 million towards the STEM centre, while Christian, jointly with his wife, have personally pledged J$1 million.
“This proposed national STEM centre will coordinate with teachers’ colleges across the island to train teachers to deliver a STEM-based curriculum. It will also train specialist teachers for the STEM academies, which are being established by the Government,” Christian said.
He informed that focus will be placed on teachers because they have a multiplier effect.
“By providing training and incentives for STEM teachers, we will begin to improve our children’s performance in science and mathematics, promote hands-on learning for children of all ages and give them the opportunity to apply what they are learning to real-life situations,” he noted.
Prime Minister Holness led a landmarking ceremony for the first Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy in Dunbeholden, St Catherine, in October of last year.