October 2, 2023

Permanent Secretary delivers feature address at Caribbean Youth Science Forum

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CYSF-2014-940x380From news.gof.tt

Good Morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Kindly accept the apologies of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. the Honourable Rupert Griffith. Unfortunately, he could not be here with us this morning due to another national commitment. I would like to thank him for his leadership and support in the hosting of the Caribbean Youth Science Forum.

It is indeed a great pleasure to join you today. I can immediately see and feel the excitement and energy of the many young people here. I thank the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST) very much for this opportunity to address you this morning.

In 2010 the President of the United States of America Barack Obama stated that

“… Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today -especially in science, technology, engineering and math

An insightful and profound statement indeed.

STEM education – that is education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – is the main reason behind the hosting of this 13th highly successful Caribbean Youth Science Forum.

It is my understanding that this year the Forum has attracted over 200 students from a number of Caribbean countries as well as representation by some 150 Trinidad and Tobago scholars from 30 different educational institutions.

The Caribbean Youth Science Forum is a perfect platform to nurture your scientific passions through interaction with leading local and international scientists and professionals such as Professor Miguel Noicolelis, a phenomenon in the world of neuroscience and neuroprosthetics, as well as through networking with your peers and “science in action” field trips.

Our 2014 event will offer an in-depth look at the increasingly inter-disciplinary nature of sciences with a speaker list which promises a diverse range of topics for delegates to discuss, debate and learn about.

My dear young people, STEM is now on the front burner of virtually every education debate in the Caribbean – and with good reason.

For quite some time the Caribbean economy has been based on a monoculture – in the past sugar then tourism and for Trinidad and Tobago it has been energy.

It is definitely time to build even more diversified and competitive economies. The link between technological capacity and economic growth is clear. If we harness new technologies productivity and employment opportunities increase. The Caribbean region must expand knowledge and expertise in science and technology in order to become more competitive, improve trade and other services, and remove barriers to enter new markets.

Building human capital in science and technology is critical to empowering the Caribbean to take advantage of its innate strengths. It is important that we provide the environment to foster creativity and innovation as well as to inculcate a sense of entrepreneurship, especially in our young people.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has clearly recognised that science and technology is one of the pillars for the diversification of our national economy. One of our goals is to ensure that our society becomes E-Ready.

It is, therefore, in this light that we are equipping our new generation of talented and ambitious young people with the skills and knowledge to enable them to formulate and implement solutions for our challenges.

Hence the imperative for this Caribbean Youth Science Forum.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has also begun to roll out its unique and innovative series of Community Based Star.tt ICT Access Centres. These are internet facilities in underserved areas that provide free access to technology and training opportunities therein ensuring that every individual has access to the fountain of knowledge and e-learning that is the worldwide web.

Three (3) of the anticipated forty four (44) Star.tt centres are already opened – in Penal, Cumana and Guayaguayare.

We have a lot of reasons to be proud of the significant strides the Caribbean has made in the field of education. Today, education is universal and in Trinidad and Tobago every secondary child is given a lap top. Our challenge now is to take our students completing primary and secondary school to the next level.

We must provide you, our young people, with the expertise and skills to enter the job market and contribute to the Caribbean’s economic growth and development.

As young people, you must know that you can change the world. There is already substantial evidence over the years of how young people successfully use social networks to demand and initiate change. But moreover, you can use the power of science and technology to achieve meaningful results.

Whilst so many of you have tablets and smart phones, how many of you really use the technology to find solutions to some of our most dire national and regional issues such as in the areas of food and biotechnology, natural disasters, “greening” of the environment.

I would like to acknowledge the vision and leadership of NIHERST in its operation as a centre for the elevation of science, technology and innovation in the minds of the population – especially our youth. NIHERST has cemented itself as a leader in the development of our nation’s intellectual, institutional and social capacity to create and innovate using science and technology.

The soon to be established National Science City in Couva will certainly assist NIHERST in its research and development programs and its community outreach drive. The National Science City, on a sprawling 52 acres, will house state-of-the-art facilities for providing visitors with an engaging, enjoyable and memorable experience in Science, Technology and Innovation. The city will be a model of environmentally sustainable practice in building design and will epitomise a giant leap forward for all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

However, permit me to challenge NIHERST to further its partnerships with other regional educational and scientific institutions so as to facilitate joint participative research and development studies and, most importantly, share knowledge and expertise.

Greater effort must be made to tap into, and leverage, our Caribbean academia and research diaspora in Europe and North America. The Diaspora is really an invaluable resource.

Youth delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Whilst we hope that the interactive sessions and social exchanges at the Caribbean Youth Science Forum will fuel your passion for the area of STEM; we also want to learn from you and be inspired by you. And we want to work with you to enhance your lives and the well-being of your communities, Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean Region.

Together we can help build a more prosperous and sustainable future. So I am asking you to help to show us the way. We really need your energy, your idealism, and your ideas to change our individual countries.

As I begun today, I will like to close with a statement from the President of the United States of America delivered at the National Academy of Sciences last year (2013):

“We want to make sure that we are exciting young people around math and science and technology and computer science. We do not want our kids just to be consumers of the amazing things that science generates; we want them to be producers as well. We have got to make sure that we are training great calculus and biology teachers, and encouraging students to keep up with their physics and chemistry classes…. It means teaching proper research methods and encouraging young people to challenge accepted knowledge.”

Take these words to heart for this is why you are here this week for the Caribbean Youth Science Forum.

I wish you all a highly stimulating, fun and rewarding Caribbean Youth Science Forum. This will be a life changing experience for you.

Make the most of the days in front of you and please, let us not forget to thank the amazing people that have made this Forum a reality for you.

With these few remarks, let me once again thank you for your kind attention.

May God bless you all.


Caption: Caribbean Youth Science Forum 2014 (Photo Courtesy www.niherst.gov.tt)

August 4, 2014: The following address was delivered by Ms. Ingrid Seerattan, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology on behalf of Dr. the Honourable Rupert Griffith.


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