Fifty schools get new mobile science labs
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
As part of the commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals of 100 per cent literacy rates, the Digicel Foundation partnered with the Ministry of Education in 2009 to design and implement an ICT-based programme focused on meeting these targets.
The foundation's latest project in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative sees the organisation investing US$1 million over 30 months to provide the first-ever mobile science labs (MSL) to 50 schools. With an emphasis on-poor urban, deep rural and all-girls' schools at the primary and secondary levels, the programme will benefit around 20,000 children directly and indirectly. Specific versions of the MSL were designed for general science, biology, chemistry and physics at all grades. In addition, the Innovations in Science Education Project will be implementing climate-smart programmes in 15 schools as a means to lower the operational expenses of the institution.
During the recent handover ceremony at the Digicel foundation's headquarters in Downtown, Kingston, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said the partnership is good news for education as it promotes science education, in schools.
LACK OF LABS
"A survey of needs in high schools showed that there was none or extremely low science laboratory facilities," Thwaites said. "Installing these mobile science laboratories, especially in these tight financial times, students will now have adequate access to scientific learning." He noted that, of the 42,000 students in secondary schools, only 5,000 are encouraged to study science subjects.
The MSL were developed by Industrial and Technical Supplies Limited to facilitate the teaching and learning of science education in schools. They provide an opportunity for science teachers and students to convert any space into a science laboratory, as very few schools have the infrastructure or finances to afford expensive fixed laboratories.
Samantha Chantrelle, CEO of the Digicel Foundation, said the MSL provide all the features of a traditional fixed science laboratory and can be used across different classrooms. A variety of apparatus and media can be used with the MSL. The ability to customise the varying equipment distributed with each unit allows educators to accurately match their curriculum, conduct experiments, and deliver subject matter at the required standard of excellence. Each MSL is equipped with certain features, including an electrical power supply fed from an external connection, and a pressure-controlled water supply, which feeds into a laboratory standard water tap and integrated sink.