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Sydney Pagon to begin STEM change

Published:Monday | August 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Education is far advanced with plans to transform the St Elizabeth-based Sydney Pagon High School into a STEM Academy, focusing on the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Approximately $20 million is being spent initially to upgrade the science labs, classrooms and library facilities to receive approximately 100 grade-seven students who will commence the STEM programme in September. The students will be segmented into four separate classes and receive lessons skewed towards mathematics and the sciences, along with other subjects.

The Sydney Pagon STEM Academy will be the first of its kind in Jamaica since Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites announced plans earlier this year to establish a number of institutions with a curriculum emphasising science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This is a strategic response to the need for more highly qualified technology graduates for the job market.

Workforce development

According to Thwaites, "the STEM academies will serve to expand the capacity and diversity of the workforce and to prepare more students for the jobs of the future."

As part of the preparatory activities, academic and administrative staff have been exposed to intense training focusing on areas including the integration of STEM into the curriculum, project-based learning, alternative assessment, and customer relations. The training sessions have been facilitated by the HEART Trust/NTA, the University of Technology and the Core Curriculum Unit in the education ministry.

The ministry has also conducted sensitisation workshops with parents of the new students, parents from feeder schools and community members.