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President-Elect of Shaw University Weighs in on MOE STEM Policy

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Dr Tashni-Ann Dubroy

President-Elect of Shaw University in the United States, Dr Tashni-Ann Dubroy, has made a call for the Ministry of Education (MOE) to provide the necessary resources for the implementation of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) policy and the establishment of STEM academies.

In an interview with The Gleaner, the Jamaican native pointed out several areas that she says should not be overlooked.

"Ample resources should be allocated to fund the plan in its entirety, or the ramifications will be very little return on a pricey investment. Solutions to the dearth of resources may rest in cultivating donors such as Jamaicans who live abroad," she said.

Dubroy, who is a chemist by training, has cautioned against increased education in the sciences without providing the matching job opportunities. According to her, "It is critical that the education to workforce pipeline is examined. Upon graduation, students will be seeking employment. Churning out too many scientists and not having enough jobs in a breadth of science fields is not a successful outcome."

She wants the STEM policy to have a gendered approach, and also to consider rural Jamaica.

"Maintaining gender equity in administrative positions and in programme participation is an area that is often overlooked, but is also critical to the success of a STEM policy of this kind. To mitigate risk of failure, rural areas should not be neglected," she told The Gleaner.

advocating for change

Dubroy is also advocating for a change in the teaching and learning of science. She said that, "teachers should be provided with sample curricula, as current practice fails to engage children's natural curiosity. Enquiry-based and active learning are teaching methods that are proving to be effective in early childhood education. Students must be taught to understand the relationship between science and everyday life.

"One of the attributes of a scientist is one's ability to work in a team. Implementing STEM policy is a team effort that can only be accomplished when all entities in the various phases of the pipeline work together," she said.

Dubroy went on to posit that young Jamaican scientists should utilise their STEM knowledge to impact the Government.

"As leaders, we have a duty to ensure the sustainability of our island's infrastructure for generations to come. Jamaica's youth are very talented and smart, but they tend to shy away from government positions where they will have the most significant impact on the welfare of our country. Young scientists need to understand the breadth of opportunities available for them to use their degrees. I am encouraging all young people to embrace government positions where they will use their research and data acquisition skills to inform decision making," she argued.

A full feature on Dr Tashni-Ann Dubroy can be seen this Sunday in the Outlook magazine.