Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, on Wednesday, visited the St Pius Primary School to check on educational robotic kits that were donated to the school by the ministry in collaboration with STEM Guyana.

The kits were donated as Stem Guyana, a non-profit organisation, help teams prepare pupils to participate in its 2019 National Robotics Competition (NRC), a pre-qualifier to be selected to represent the country at the 2019 International Youth Robotics Competition (IYRC).

The NRC is scheduled to begin on May 5 and involves at least one team from each administrative region.

St Pius Primary School is one of 174 community ICT hubs being used by STEM Guyana to prepare the over 100 pupils currently in training. STEM Guyana will select local pupils to vie against other youths from around the world in the 7 to 12 and 13 to 17 age groups and open categories of the 20190412 5

Head of STEM Guyana, Karen Abrams, said the NGO is hoping to take approximately five pupils per category to the IYRC slated for Aug 2-3, 2019 in Daejeon, Korea.
Minister Hughes’ presentation of the robotic kits fulfils a commitment to ensure that Guyana successfully runs off the annual qualifier national robotics competition for primary and secondary school-aged pupils and ‘unattached’ participants.

The kits teach children to apply the fundamentals of coding, working with ‘sensor technology’, motor control and wireless communication, as well as strengthen their skills in mathematics, science, collaboration and critical-thinking.

Speaking with a group of children, a smiling Minister Hughes was told of how the pupils have been utilising the kits to build various things, and what they have learnt since receiving them.

Hughes implored the students to make the best of the initiative because all the right gears would mean nothing without their dedication and commitment to using them and learning from them.

“The government can put all these opportunities in place but we’re asking parents, teachers, pupils to make sure you take advantage of the opportunities. Young people are very good with the technology. Now you’re going to be doing some robotics, some gaming and all sorts of exciting things. For the jobs that are going to be available in the future, you’re going to need to have all these skills. Start thinking of how you’re going to be able to make a living from this when you get older,” the minister said.

She added, “I’m so excited about this initiative because in my day, we didn’t have any of these fabulous opportunities. So one of the things we’ve realised is that we want to build capacity and make sure our young people are ready for this new world of technology. We want to give you the same opportunities as any other child in any other part of the world. I am saying to you always consider the field of technology as an opportunity. Tell your friends and family make sure they go to the ICT hub in your area and utilise them.”

This MoPT/STEM Guyana collaboration also includes the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Education. STEM Guyana is committed to helping the Government of Guyana to boost its STEM/STEAM programme and the MoPT is ensuring that the ICT hubs are fully utilised.

Headmistress of the St Pius School, Alison Lankerman, expressed the school’s gratitude for being considered for the donation.

The ICT lab at the school was constructed approximately one year ago and has been utilised mainly to tutor National Grade Six Assessment pupils and ‘slow learners’. However, Lankerman shared that the school is gradually working on putting programmes in place so that all of the approximately 700 pupils at the school can benefit from the facility.
She noted that measures will also have to be put in place to open up the facility to the wider community.