Georgetown, Guyana – (April 1, 2016) President David Granger, today, said that Guyana needs an ‘education of innovation’ to meet its limitless needs and as such, its youths must be provided with opportunities to develop practical solutions to ensure that those needs are adequately met.
The Head of State was at the time delivering an address at the National Science, Mathematics and Technology Fair and the final leg of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge 2016, held at the Linden Foundation Secondary School in Region 10. These overlapping events were held under the theme, “Enhancing traditional technologies to sustain modern societies through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”
“Schools’ participation in this fair and the demonstration of the inventive projects are expressions of our young people’s interest and imagination. It is one more step towards an ‘innovation education’… These exhibitions of the creative genius of our students reassure that our country’s future will be guided by a generation of fine minds. They remind us constantly that the future of this country will be in safe hands,” President Granger said.
He urged students and teachers to ensure that the innovativeness displayed at this national fair is pursued beyond this event and beyond the classrooms so that it can lead to positive, life-changing benefits for the wider Guyanese society.
“The models of the projects on display could be shared with the wider society so that their practical applications would not be completely lost but would add value to people’s lives… Your enthusiastic participation is a signal of your seriousness, not only about success in your personal careers but about solving problems in your communities and in this great country. It is the start of an innovation education,” the President said.
Turning his attention to the teachers, the President said that STEM requires a different approach to teaching, whereby science, technology, engineering and mathematics are integrated into a system based on practical applications and realistic solutions to problems, rather than being taught as four separate disciplines. He said that mastering STEM at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels is essential to problem-solving, ensuring Guyana’s survival in a competitive world.
Students of the Linden Foundation Secondary School serenade President David Granger upon his arrival at the school. Minister within the Ministry of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry is pictured at the President’s left.
“Guyana faces threats from various sources; the adverse effects of climate change, concerns over the sustainability of our water supplies, the security of food supply, the generation of cheaper, cleaner and renewable sources of energy and, inevitably, the prevention of the spread of diseases such as Ebola and Zika – across borders. The response to these global challenges requires scientific solutions…” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry, in her remarks, gave assurances that this year, the Government through the Education Ministry, will seek to strengthen the science and technology programme offered in secondary schools by ensuring that all schools are equipped with functional laboratories.
Additionally, the Government will be providing 15 STEM scholarships at the University of Guyana (UG).
Regional Executive Officer, Region 10, Mr. Gavin Clarke called on the Ministry of Education to forge partnerships with the private sector to see some of these ideas translated into action to develop viable products and services.
Sagicor’s Communications Specialist, Ms. Marlene Chin said that this is the third and final edition of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge finals that will be hosted in Guyana. In the first year, Guyana entered a record number of projects in the Region. The national finals were held at the Umana Yana where the Zeeburg Secondary School won the coveted top position. A student from that school went on to represent Guyana in the regional finals in Florida and out of 15 schools from 15 territories, Guyana placed third.
Last year, the Abram Zuil Secondary School was named the national winner with its innovative ‘Paddy Husk Particle Board’ project. This year, students from the Bygeval Secondary School in Region Five wowed the judges with their invention of a natural alternative to the chemical-based mosquito repellents that are sold in the markets. The first and second runners-up were the Abram Zuil Secondary and the Uitvlugt Secondary respectively.
Students, teachers and other representatives at the National Science, Mathematics and Technology Fair and the Sagicor 2016 Visionaries Challenge finals pay keen attention to President David Granger as he delivers his remarks.
Ms. Darshanie Nanhu from the Bygeval Secondary School, who is the brains behind the winning piece, titled ‘the Eradicator’, explained that this natural concoction is made from the flower of the Artocarpus Camasi plant commonly known as breadnut or katahar and virgin coconut oil.
The flower contains toxins which kills flying insects. These toxins were extracted with the use of rubbing alcohol and then mixed with coconut oil. She proudly boasted that not only does this solution ward off mosquitos but it also moisturizes the skin as well.
They produced this product in the form of mosquito coils as well as in the form of a liquid repellent that is applied directly to the skin.
Some of the prizes received by the winning school include: a computerised mobile science and technology centre, six CXC-approved science kits, a Challenge Trophy, an award certificate, US$1000, GoPro cameras and Samsung smart watches for each member of the team, and a Kindle Fire tablet for the supervising teacher. Additionally, the team leader and supervising teacher received an all-expenses paid trip to Florida to participate in a seven-day STEM Ambassadors Programme in July. At that forum, they will compete in the regional finals and get the opportunity to win US$5000 for their school.
A number of special awards were also presented to some of the schools which showcased a high level of creativity in their respective projects. They are the ISA Islamic School – Best STEM use Award; the Uitvulgt Secondary – Best Project Solution Award; St. Stanislaus College -Most Creative and Innovative Award; Bygeval Secondary – Most Community Involvement Award, and the Cottonfield Secondary – Most Relevant to School or Community Award for their project on the factors leading to suicide.
Members of the audience comprising students, parents and teachers, cheer as a presentation is being made at the closing ceremony, held at the Linden Foundation Secondary School.