STEM Guyana welcomes Education focus on ICT, Robotics

Founder of STEMGuyana, Karen Abrams, has said that she welcomes the initiatives outlined in the 2019 National Budget that are geared towards the development of youth through Technology.

Speaking to the Guyana Chronicle, Abrams said: “I do believe that the government has focused on bringing Technology to young people… and providing resources that will help to prepare them”.

Among these moves to provide the nexus between young people and Technology, Finance Minister Winston Jordan highlighted in his Budget 2019 presentation that Value Added Tax (VAT) will be removed from educational Robotic Kits in order to boost the `Reading & Robotics’ programme designed for children in communities across Guyana.

Also, more Hinterland communities including Kaikan, Paruima and Jawalla in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), and Kato in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), will be connected to the e-government network and the residents will have access to the Internet when over 20 ICT hubs are established and equipped by the NDMA. This initiative forms part of the GRIF-funded Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities E-Access connectivity project.

Ms. Abrams believes that the placement of the ICT hubs would be extremely helpful, not only to the work to be done by STEMGuyana in the regions, but also to lift the overall quality of education delivered to the children residing there.

In fact, from December 2018, STEMGuyana is to begin a series of training sessions for out-of-school youths in Regions 2, 3, 6 and 10. Staff in the government Department of Youth are also being taught by the STEM specialists in Robotics and Coding/computer Programming, while their knowledge of the various levels of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are reinforced.

Abrams explained that this initiative deliberately relies on the availability of ICT hubs which have turned out to be been a huge boost to the delivery of ICT services in areas where the hubs already exist.

“A lot of work needs to be done, and in 2019 we have some more resources [to get the job done],” she stated.

In addition to these measures, Government is also exploring every avenue to integrate higher levels of Technological training into the education sector.

Education Minister, Hon. Nicolette Henry said, “We will be introducing Robotics in primary schools and selected secondary schools; we will expand the Smart classroom programme, and we will be looking at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Animation and things that have not yet been done, or attempted, in the past”.

On the imminent integration of Robotics into schools’ curricula, Abrams believes that this is a progressive move. “What STEMGuyana has been trying to do is keep youths engaged after school and raise the level of competitiveness through competitions”. Abrams has given the initiative to revising the academic curricula to include Robotics a ‘thumbs up’. “This is very ideal,” she stated.

While she has not had the opportunity to peruse all of the initial programmes in their entirety, she is generally pleased with their shape and anticipated outcomes.

During the Budget reading on Monday December 3, Minister Jordan also told the House that the Government will continue to implement all of its targeted interventions that are geared towards “stimulating innovation. These include Coding and Programming training camps, Robotics camps, Girls in ICT programmes, and Hackathons”.

He said that the youthful population will also continue to benefit from local and foreign investments in the ICT sector. To date, many students at all levels, from Primary to Tech/Voc and University, are already demonstrating a strong affinity for Technology and the desire to innovate.

“The investments in all of those groups are extremely important,” Abrams said, and affirmed: “I support anything that supports young people in preparation for the future.”

Source: Guyana Chronicle