Land has been marked for the construction of Jamaica’s first Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy in Dunbeholden, St. Catherine.
A Jamaica 60 legacy project, the institution will be part of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development and will be erected on the 22 acres of land reserved for social services.
Addressing a landmarking ceremony on Tuesday (October 25), Prime Minister Andrew Holness, noted that the property, which was once a sugar plantation, will be used to prepare Jamaicans for “the new world”.
“To stand on the grounds of a former sugar plantation and say we are going to build a technology school to produce the people of Jamaica who will not just be consumers of technology but will become producers of technology… that is the true liberation of our people,” Mr. Holness said.
He argued that, as technology develops, “it is the nations that own technology that own the future”.
A total of six Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) schools will be built by the Government at an overall cost of US$133 million. An institution for the Arts will also be constructed.
Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, said that the landmarking occasion is a significant step forward in the Government’s efforts to engage and develop students’ interest in STEAM.
“When this Academy is completed, we expect to enrol some 2,400 students, and that is significant. We are optimistic that this will be a game changer in the education system and we’re looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of students… in the very near future,” Mrs. Williams said.
The development, she added, will be significant in preparing Jamaican students for current and emerging jobs, as well as helping them to develop their own innovative and critical-thinking skills to carve out new niches.
National Education Trust (NET) Chairman, Ryan Reid, added that the academies to be built will be climate-resilient, technology-driven and conducive for STEAM curriculum and instruction “thus maximising creativity, curiosity, intellectual rigour, and innovation for Jamaican students and educators”.
Recently, a National STEAM Education Report, commissioned by the British Council with the partnership of the NET and the United Kingdom (UK)-based STEMunity, was launched in Jamaica.
It assessed the status of STEAM education in the country and provided recommendations for the next steps to achieve growth and expansion.
Among the main recommendations were the development of a STEAM Centre, which will be charged with coordinating all activities related to the development of a national STEAM culture.
Jamaica’s First Steam Academy to be Built in St. Catherine