With support from Royal Caribbean Ltd., the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is launching an innovative STEM for Oceans education initiative in The Bahamas.
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education has increasingly been recognized as a key driver for opportunity in countries worldwide. In the Caribbean, the need to develop a STEM-skilled workforce presents a critical challenge. Yet, according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data, fewer than one in five public school students in The Bahamas passes the math exam.
Through STEM, youth can develop the skills and knowledge necessary for a workforce where success results not just from what one knows, but from what one is able to do with that knowledge. As such, STEM skills go beyond “hard” skills. Instead, STEM focuses on skills that are both cognitive and non-cognitive, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and communication skills.
STEM for Oceans will reach at least 200 public school students with learning content related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Additionally, it will equip at least 15 teachers to become better leaders and authority figures on STEM subjects.
“The Bahamas has an intrinsic connection to oceans, both economically and culturally,” said Reverend Don Haynes, principal at the R. N. Gomez School, in Great Harbour Cay, where the project recently launched. “For example, The Bahamas is home to Sir Durward Knowles, a gold medalist sailor. Ocean science is dynamic and interdisciplinary: a perfect venue for teaching topics related to STEM. The new STEM for Oceans program will set the stage for creative and disciplined thinking to engage our youth to help solve real-life issues in our island nation.”
“We make STEM education available in public schools so that all girls and boys have the opportunity to grow and prosper,” said Katie Taylor, PADF executive director. “And we build in hands-on grand challenges, so they, with their teachers, parents and schools, can work on practical challenges in their communities.”
“Our oceans connect us all and provide us with abundant opportunities,” said Helen O’Connell, director of corporate responsibility, Royal Caribbean Ltd. “STEM for Oceans will not only inspire future generations but will arm them with the knowledge to care for our oceans sustainably.”
The booming technology sector has spawned a great need for innovators, engineers and scientists. As the global tech sector continues to grow, machines are gradually replacing traditional manual labor with jobs that require STEM skills.
STEM for Oceans is financed by Royal Caribbean Ltd. and is part of PADF’s regional public-private initiative called #STEMamericas, which is working in Latin America and the Caribbean to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists. In addition to The Bahamas, PADF has implemented STEM education initiatives in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Panama.