Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, is calling for the enhancement of science education in schools, which he said would lead to greater productivity.
"Improving science education, in particular, will directly and positively impact the level of application of science and technology to production in Jamaica. Some 90 per cent of Jamaica's exports are still raw material-based and only six per cent is medium- to high-tech manufactures," he said.
Paulwell was speaking at the Ideas Energy Innovation contest hosted by Global Village Energy Partnership International at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew.
"The situation will only be improved by effectively addressing a number of issues which, over the years, have impacted negatively on the status of science technology and innovation (STI) in Jamaica. These include an inadequate policy and legislative framework to support STI, comparatively low levels of STI investments, the lack of an effective and well-coordinated national innovation system, a weak research and innovation culture along with insufficient public-private partnership," he said.
The minister said failure to address the critical issues accounts for the low score in three key benchmarks used to determine the international rank in STI.
The areas he listed are domestic patent register, scientific publications and expenditures on research and development.
Pointing to statistics, he said between 2007 and 2011 the number of patent applications has fallen and even fewer are being granted. No patents were granted in 2008.
Eight persons, including three Jamaicans, emerged winners in the Caribbean competition. More than 180 persons had entered from 14 countries. The other winners were two persons from Haiti, one person from Belize and two persons from Suriname.