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Is STEMGuyana Relevant In Guyana’s Rapidly Growing Technology Economy

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There are more than 20 multinational companies already operating in Guyana–names like Tullow, Repsol, Frontera Energy, CGX, Eco Atlantic have made multimillion dollar bets on Guyana.  Every day we hear of more investment deals being signed, so more companies will come if Guyana succeeds in reducing overall investment risk and this means that the demand for high quality workers who embrace change and who possess the soft (essential) skills for the 21st century world, will remain high. 

The pressing question remains, how can we ensure that the benefits of our Oil industry are reaped by more than just the multinationals, a few local Guyanese businessmen, and a miniscule number of Guyanese workers.  The answer to that question will depend on how successful the nation becomes in preparing larger batches of our students for technology entrepreneurship or for high paying, technical roles in these industries.  This preparation must begin early and the STEMGuyana organization is a national institution which leads the way in this space by  hosting STEM clubs across the country, training hundreds of club leaders, preparing the Guyana national team for global robotics competition, empowering young people to create technology prototypes which can be commercialized and working with partners in the public and private sectors to rollout a national model for strengthening the academic skills of vulnerable students through more than 20 (soon to be 40) learning pods across 9 out of 10 regions of Guyana.

Let us also consider the technology that will be necessary to improve efficiency and productivity in almost every other sector in Guyana.  Whether agriculture, fisheries, mining, manufacturing, entertainment, transportation, other infrastructure–every single industry in Guyana will require creators and innovators to help them grow, develop and become more globally competitive. Guyana must develop the local capacity to move these industries into world-class producers for a global marketplace.

Today, Guyana simply does not produce enough high quality, highly skilled workers to meet the future demands of her rapidly developing economy and one thing is certain, if the talent is not available in Guyana, the multinationals will bring in talent from around the world.  Educational institutions will have to tailor their programs to meet the needs of Guyana’s economy, and institutions like the University of Guyana have already begun the process, and that’s why programs like STEMGuyana must be supported and must be successful.  While our schools must focus on improving student outcomes for struggling students, STEMGuyana serves as a complement, not a competitor, to the traditional education system by pushing more students through the technology pipeline, by engaging students in STEM education early, and by educating, motivating and inspiring our nation’s young people to be innovators in the STEM field.  Many of them will also pursue STEM careers.

In Guyana, there is still much uncertainty about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), but most of the countries in the world are pretty clear about STEM’s benefits and they are investing in their young people to prepare them for the future.  Following are only a few reasons why STEM is important–STEM jobs are the future of our economy, STEM teaches critical thinking and innovation, STEM classes provide unique opportunities for teamwork, A STEM curriculum helps students develop project management skills, and recent events in Guyana (and around the world) have only made technology skills more important.

According to UNESCO, “Capacity in science and technology is a key element in economic and social development. Promoting science education at all educational levels, and scientific literacy in society in general, is a fundamental building block to building a country’s capacity in science and technology.”.  In Guyana, we must support any effort to integrate traditional education curriculum with technology.  STEMGuyana has worked to integrate more than 1300 traditional Maths, Science and English–grades 1 to grades 10 lessons with technology and feedback from the learning pods program in which the curriculum was introduced indicating higher levels of student engagement and educational outcomes.  Guyana’s students could benefit significantly if, for example, our educational system were able to integrate the pods program into a national after-school program supported by the Ministry of Education.  These are the kinds of synergies that are needed to propel Guyana forward and wrestle the education of children from the doldrums created by structural poverty, unequal schools and nearly two years of the pandemic.

STEMGuyana celebrated its 5 year anniversary on July 23rd.  In 5 short years, the organization has made a massive impact on the lives of citizens of all ethnicities and socioeconomic levels across the country.  A recent survey has associated the STEMGuyana name with 70% positive brand recognition.  There is a reason for that–any organization that can reach thousands of students in interior and coastal communities, expose them to new technology, empower them and strengthen their self confidence, inspire them to pursue technical careers, improve their soft (essential) skills and prepare them to be globally competitive; deserves to become a Guyanese institution, supported and strengthened by progressive and innovative leaders.