A CARICOM Science delegation is to visit Cuba in an effort to strengthen technology links between the region and its Spanish-speaking neighbour.
The delegation will be headed by Professor Harold Ramkissoon, chairman of CARICOM Science, Technology and Innovation Committee.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell who holds responsibility for science and technology in Caricom, made the announcement Tuesday at the start of a 2nd High Level Caricom S&T meeting in St George’s. “It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce the visit to Cuba of a CARICOM Science Delegation to promote collaboration and cooperation, and to be headed by Professor Emeritus Harold Ramkissoon, who is well-qualified for this role,” said Prime Minister Mitchell.
“For his scholarly work, Professor Ramkissoon has been made a Foreign Fellow of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, and for his contribution to the development of Science and Technology in the wider Caribbean, he was presented with the Key to the City of Havana. He is therefore strategically placed to open many doors for our region.”
The meeting, which runs until Saturday, is being attended by CARICOM Ministers responsible for Science and Technology, Captains of Industry and leading scientists in the region. Lead papers will be delivered by Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Glenroy Cumberbatch, Registrar of the Caribbean Examination Council Headquarters and Dr. Arnoldo Ventura, former S&T Advisor to the Prime Minister of Jamaica.
In his address to the opening, the Grenadian leader noted that the region was still lagging behind in research. In 2002, for every 10 Caribbean research papers published, Uganda, Panama and Colombia produced respectively 5, 4, and 20. By 2012 the ratio had increased substantially to 11, 6, and 50.
“That is, Colombia is now producing five times more than us while previously it produced only twice as much. Colombia’s economy is also very strong,” Dr Mitchell pointed out. “Clearly the region needs to strengthen its research culture. Indeed, it is clear to even the uninformed, that there is a direct correlation between scientific research and economic development,” he said.
The Grenadian leader urged that science education be made more attractive to students, called for the establishment of a National Science Teachers Association in all CARICOM countries and introduce best practices in science education, similar to what exists in Finland, Singapore and Hong Kong.
“In this highly competitive globalized world, we must go beyond the narrow confines of our region in making a comparison of performances in schools,” Dr Mitchell said. “We must, for example, on a regular basis, allow our students to compete in the Programme for International Student Assessment, which allows countries to compare outcomes of learning in reading, mathematics and science literacy”.
The three areas of focus of the meeting are science education in schools, strengthening the research culture and strengthening the entrepreneurial S&T environment.