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By Karen Abrams, MBA
Ed.D Education Technology ‘25
The Caribbean must become a place where young people can thrive, a region where food security, cultural and social development and overall economic development can provide jobs and improved quality of life for all citizens.
Caribbean countries will need to nurture, recruit and engage the resources of its brightest minds to offer solutions for problems like improved flood management, better roads, schools, hospitals, running water, reliable electricity and internet, a reduction in crime and teen pregnancy and to provide a good life for its citizens.
For these goals to be achieved, nations must produce young people who are educated to be curious, innovative, self confident, collaborative, empowered and predisposed to solve the problems of the region using innovative approaches to learning. If education systems adjust to empower students and to include a project based approach to learning and a focus on collaboration and critical thinking then the natural outcome will be improvement in student engagement and student academic outcomes.
Caribbean countries that are successful in accessing quality resources to aid in the redesign of education will effectively mould young people who have been conditioned to work together to innovate solutions, solve conflicts, communicate and inspire others and solve the pervasive, persistent structural problems which have plagued the Caribbean for decades.
It is important to note that many local communities, countries and the wider region share the same challenges. Caribbean citizens must be encouraged to innovate solutions which can be created and implemented regionally and which have commercial potential within the country, region or the larger global society. Additionally governments must allow talent to flourish wherever it can be found or they risk slowing down development and wasting valuable national resources.
Because of the Caribbean’s relatively small population, students should be expected to contribute and compete in the innovation and intellectual capacity sphere across a diversity of industries. Since we are now navigating in an increasingly automated world, our young people must be educated to use the tools like AI, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality and robotics to solve problems in agriculture, mining, crime prevention, social services, education, healthcare, infrastructure and many of the issues whose problems plague the Caribbean and stymie the region’s economic development.
As the region changes its approach to education, nations that invest in change today will produce cadres of confident problem solvers who will create solutions relevant to their communities and region–solutions which can also be commercialized both regionally and globally.
The solutions created will drive the growth of regional economies, increasing job opportunities and raising salaries, allowing for lower unemployment, increased tax revenue and general improvement in the quality of life for all Caribbean citizens.
Technology Innovations In Agriculture
This week – Farming Is In Trouble; Can Per Plant Precision Agriculture Help?
The overwhelming feedback from small farmers around the world is that farming is not working. Yields are stagnating, machinery costs are rising, and profit suffering. Farmers are also facing an environmental crisis, with heavy machinery and chemical use playing a key part. Consequently, there is an enormous push towards the use of technology in agriculture to help solve many of the challenges farmers endure today.
Rob Macklin; Head of Sustainable Farming, National Trust (UK) shared that, “Technology needs to play a big part in solving many of the issues we currently face in farming – particularly improving soil health and carbon sequestration, reducing our reliance on fossil fuel power and fertilisers and avoiding the adverse impacts of synthetic chemicals on the environment. We have started small robot trials at Wimpole and intend to extend trials to other estates in the near future.”
To survive, farmers often have to consider 3 major variables which include optimal yield, maximum profitability and a thriving environment – in farming to achieve at least two of these generally results in compromising on the third. Proponents of ‘Per Plant Farming’ believe that the use of AI and robotics in agriculture will enable global food production to achieve all three with no compromise. ‘Per plant precision agriculture’, it is argued, is kinder to soil, kinder to the environment, more efficient, more precise and more productive. It’s the best of all worlds. An increased yield, as well as minimal chemical usage.
Our Village Voice Sunday series on agriculture will share weekly stories of how technology use in agriculture will aid farmers by increasing yield, reducings costs and reducing fertilizer and water use in farming. Local UK, Farmer of the Year, Andrew Ward stated that, “Robotics and automation are going to be at the heart of agriculture. Environmental care coupled with efficient and profitable food production. We’re under pressure to use less chemistry and less inputs on the crop – applying products to 100% of a field needs to change. Robotics is the way forward. This is the fourth agricultural revolution.”
Robin The Robot’s weekly roundup
Episode 5 – All About Virtual Reality
Hiya Kids! Thank you for tuning in to last week’s “Robin The Robot” show! In our previous column, we discussed how technology improves agriculture and this week we’re going to learn all about virtual reality, also children will have fun while the accompany Robin and Orby on a virtual visit to Stabroek Market– so don’t forget to tune into the Learning Channel every Saturday morning at 9:30am to join Robin The Robot and have fun while you learn. All Robin The Robot episodes can also be found online at www.robintherobot.tv.
Learning Pods Continue To “Spring Up” Across Guyana; Canjie opens, 10 more pod launches planned by July ‘22
STEMGuyana’s national Learning Pods program offers technology-integrated 1st – 10th grade lesson plans in Maths, English, Science & Technology to vulnerable students across Guyana, ½ of them being girls. The program which was originally funded by Tullow Oil, is now being funded in large part by the IDB and more partners, yet unnamed.
The Learning Pods program has been expanded from 4 month sessions to 10 month sessions, for three years and will now benefit children from 1 class session weekly to 3 sessions weekly by July ‘22. Many of the pods use ICT hubs which are largely maintained by the Office of the Prime Minister. The Department of Youth and selective Diaspora members continue their long term support of the program and investment in preparing the children of Guyana for the 21st century future in which they will live and contribute.
The rapid expansion of this innovative program, unlike any other in the Caribbean, has resulted in a growing demand for community volunteers who wish to contribute to the investment in the community’s children. The program today includes snacks, masks, cleaning supplies, zoom specialist teachers, coding and robotics classes, small libraries in each club and access to the graphogame literacy app to help address the massive literacy problem identified across Guyana.
The Learning Pods program will soon expand to include ‘real world’ technology training for older students, which would allow them to become eligible for jobs in technology related fields across Guyana. The program continues to look for sponsors–for more information on sponsoring snacks, sponsoring a learning pod, volunteering or contributing in any other way, email email@example.com.