Remarks by Minister for Education and Culture
Honourable Myron V. Walwyn
2016 World Science Day for Peace and Development
Science Competition Awards Ceremony
Friday 11th November, 2016
“Science for a Sustainable Future”
Established by UNESCO in 2001, World Science Day for Peace and Development is celebrated worldwide in November each year. It offers an opportunity to demonstrate to the wider public why science is relevant to our daily lives, and to draw attention to the ways in which science and technology can help to protect the environment and improve the quality of life for all.
Under the 2016 theme Science for a Sustainable Future: Celebrating Science Inventions of the 18th and 19th Centuries, this year’s activity is an opportunity for us to see how the sciences helped to build a better world and indeed a better Territory for us to live in.
I must commend the students who took up the challenge to participate in this year’s World Science Day. These projects are sure to capture the attention of spectators interested in learning of the history of very important inventions and the indispensible role they play in the modern world.
It is important for us to celebrate, and be knowledgeable about the scientific discoveries of the past and to also learn how present day scientists continue to build on those discoveries and present us with new ways to explore space, cure diseases, build and develop new technologies and more importantly, help us, as a human race to explore new realities.
Specifically for us in the Virgin Islands and through our education system, we are finding opportunities to better prepare our students for their new realities. While in my day, to discover far off places, research a theory you heard on the radio or read in a book, I had to either have or visit a relative with a collection of encyclopedias; or even spend hours at the local library. Today the young people of the Virgin Islands by the click of their keypads or swipe on an iPad, have the opportunity to be transported to a Discovery Channel documentary on space, learn how to build devices on YouTube and can even learn how to code unique games for their personal enjoyment.
In the Ministry of Education and Culture, we want to use this readily available science and technology to enhance the understanding of our students across all subjects; showing us once again, how science and technology improves our lives. An example of this can be seen through our recently implemented “Information and Communication Technology” programme that is currently being administered in all Grade 6 classes throughout our public primary schools in the Virgin Islands.
For education administrators and teachers, Information and Communication Technology has contributed to universal access in education, equity in our educational system, teachers’ professional development, it has delivered quality learning and teaching, and more efficient education management. The Ministry for Education and Culture has worked toward the enhancement and skills of our educators to integrate the use of ICT in the teaching and learning process.
Because of this, describing scientific theories where mathematical equations suddenly becomes much more interesting when our teachers can go to ClassFlow or TeachersTube and have students view an animation. The use of the computer has continued to evolve over the decades and has benefited our educational system by enabling us to fully utilize PowerSchool - giving students the opportunity to complete lessons, and assignments as well as conduct research much faster while at school.
Through the implementation of our Grade 12 in our education system, we want to encourage students to go beyond traditional subjects in the CAPE level and consider their new generation subjects which include animation and coding. These subjects will help our students prepare for this new economy, while providing them with skills that are valuable beyond our shores.
It is our mission, that by the year 2020, technology will be fully integrated into all schools in the Virgin Islands, we would have moved from teachers teaching with chalk and chalkboards to the use of interactive boards to make learning fun and more student-centered. Along the way, we will continue to encourage our young people to explore science and technology. As a society it remains important for us to encourage our young people to grab hold of today’s technology and science and find ways for them to integrate their learning and opportunities in science and technology to enhance our lives in the Territory.
In conclusion, World Science Day for Peace and Development is an occasion for celebrating science and what it has done for our educational system. The day should be celebrated as a tremendous human achievement, one which has brought countless benefits to humankind. It is a day that should serve as an opportunity to reflect on how science and technology can best serve our educational system, our students and the people of this Territory.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the BVI National Commission for UNESCO for organizing the activities for today and mobilizing partners who have the educational accomplishments of the young people of this territory as a priority. The Ministry for Education and Culture is committed to continue our journey of Creating a Culture of Excellence, through the promotion of all its’ activities and in particular today, the celebration of Science and technology.