Jamaica positioning as Caribbean innovation hub, says PM Holness

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Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness

By Rochelle Williams

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime minister Andrew Holness, says the government is taking deliberate steps to position Jamaica as the technology and innovation hub of the Caribbean.

Holness, who was speaking at the virtual launch of the ‘The Reform of Education in Jamaica 2021 Report’ on Thursday, January 13, said that several initiatives are being undertaken in this regard, including the coding in schools programme.

The initiative, which involves partnership with Amber Innovations Group Limited and Digicel Group, aims to promote the teaching and learning of coding in public educational institutions across Jamaica.

“Coding will be taught from grades one to 13 across all public schools and our youth will acquire basic numeracy, language and problem-solving skills, which are the prerequisites for coding,” the prime minister informed, noting that the objective is to make Jamaica the Silicon Valley of the region.

In addition, he said that plans are moving forward for the building of six new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) schools.

An institution focused on the performing arts will also be established.

Holness said that as Jamaica makes the transition to becoming a digital economy, citizens must be equipped with the basic foundational literacies to function effectively in a modern society.

Those foundational literacies include language (reading, writing, and speaking in standard form); numeracy, science, and information and communications technology (ICT), which he noted, is a critical component of modern education.

“We will be moving with certainty and deliberate speed towards a digital economy, and we can’t leave anybody behind. We have to develop a strategy as to how to educate those who have this digital reluctance. […] We need to ensure that all our students, leaving our schools, have these foundational literacies,” prime minister Holness said.

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