First STEM school to be built in St Ann
The Government is moving ahead with plans to construct Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) schools across the country, with the first such institution to be built in St Ann.
A visibility ceremony between the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the World Bank for the Jamaica Education Project (JEP) Loan Agreement, valued at US$30 million, was held at the ministry's Heroes Circle offices in downtown Kingston today.
The JEP, under the purview of the Ministry of Education and Youth, aims to improve the teaching and learning conditions in secondary education and the use of information for decision-making in the sector.
This is expected to be achieved by strengthening teaching and learning in secondary education and the overall Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Education Framework and establishing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, said Jamaica's development hinges critically on the development of the human capital.
“For us to have the opportunity to improve productivity, improve standards of living and have higher income opportunities right here in Jamaica, we have to address our human capital, and the most direct way of doing so is ensuring that we have better education outcomes,” Dr Clarke said.
He further emphasised that it was important that education outcomes in mathematics, science, technology and engineering are “dramatically” improved.
“That doesn't mean that English and arts are not important and languages. They are critically important, but we are doing better in those than we have been doing in mathematics and in STEM subjects. In addition, to be able to attract higher-paying jobs we just need more Jamaicans who are qualified in these areas,” Dr Clarke said.
“For this reason, we are very pleased to be commemorating this morning an arrangement with the World Bank whereby we will build our first STEM-dedicated high school in line with the prime minister's vision. This will be the first of six such STEM schools in Jamaica.”
The minister noted that the World Bank has been a steadfast partner of Jamaica, and the Government is pleased to partner with the bank in the area of education “as we strive to leverage our macro stability to invest in the people of Jamaica and to improve the human capital of Jamaica”.
SUPPORT TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGES
Country Director for Caribbean Countries, World Bank, Lilia Burunciuc, said the JEP project will support transformative changes in Jamaica's education system.
“By prioritising the education sector, we are investing in the future of Jamaica, empowering youth and equipping them with the skills and knowledge that they need to thrive in the rapidly changing economic realities of today's world,” Burunciuc argued.
She noted that the signing of the agreement further strengthens the partnership between the Government and the World Bank.
The director informed that the project is expected to benefit 6,000 secondary teachers who will develop better teaching practices, as well as benefit approximately 150,000 secondary students directly and indirectly, of which 75,000 will be girls.
A total of 2,400 students, of which at least 1,200 will be girls, will get access to an improved learning environment in the newly constructed STEM secondary school. In addition, 100 secondary schools are set to use information to target interventions on student retention and on keeping boys in schools.
“This is one of the major challenges today in Jamaica. We know that significant investment into Jamaica's human capital is essential to ensure that every child achieve their potential. The JEP is truly a testament to our collective vision for a better future and the incredible potential of Jamaican youth. The World Bank looks forward to continuing our support to the Government of Jamaica as the project is implemented,” Burunciuc said.
SHARED VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, said the JEP loan agreement between the Government and the World Bank signifies a shared vision for the future of education and youth development in Jamaica.
“Today, we come together not just to acknowledge the signing of the loan agreement but to underscore the visibility of our commitment to empowering the next generation,” Williams said.
“This loan is primarily to enable us to begin this journey to build STEM schools in Jamaica, to have a focus on those subject areas [bringing] them together in a real way. Yes, over the decades we have taught science… technology… engineering [and] we have taught maths. But we taught them as discrete subjects, we have not yet really brought them together in a coordinated way, so that we can get the… magic that happens when you bring these subjects together.”
Williams noted that education is not just about imparting knowledge, explaining that it is about unlocking potential, fostering creativity, and instilling values that will guide young people through the challenges and triumphs of life.
“The loan agreement is not just a financial transaction; it is an investment in the dreams and aspirations of the young minds that will shape the destiny of our nation. This ceremony is a public declaration of our commitment to transparency, accountability, and inclusivity. It is a moment for all Jamaicans to recognise that their Government is firmly committed in its dedication to providing quality education for all,” she said.
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