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Science labs at St Mary Technical High renovated

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Students and teachers of the St Mary Technical High School now have the use of renovated laboratories for the teaching and learning of the sciences.

State oil refinery, Petrojam, refurbished the school's chemistry lab at a cost of just over $1.8 million. The project, which was initiated by Port Maria Mayor and Petrojam Board member, Councillor Richard Creary, entailed infrastructure repairs, and the installation of new cupboards, tables, and gas and water lines.

This was complemented by phase-one renovation of the integrated science laboratory, which involved similar work and was spearheaded by the school at a cost of some $2.7 million.

Approximately $1.5 million of the sum came from funds earmarked by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related engagements at the school.

The remaining expenditure was from allocations from the ministry to undertake preparations for the start of the 2017/18 academic year.

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, who officially reopened the labs on Wednesday, said the renovation of the facilities is in keeping with the Government's focus on STEM, “because that will be the catalyst that is going to drive real economic growth and development”.

“In fact, for Jamaica to really build out… the knowledge-based digital society, we have to ensure that we train our students in the STEM subjects; in fact, all major professions… rely heavily on these subjects. We must ensure that we put in place the necessary support mechanisms for us to attain our rightful place among the best in the world,” he pointed out.

He hailed the contribution from Petrojam, noting that with the support, “we can expect to see more coming out of St Mary Technical High School”.

For his part, Petrojam's General Manager, Floyd Grindley, said the assistance is in keeping with the company's corporate social responsibility.

“We are... positive that this renovated (chemistry) lab will redound to the benefit of the students and Jamaica at large. Any contribution to an institution of learning or to a student is an investment in our country's future,” he noted.

Principal, Glascine McCormack Lazarus, said the lab's renovation was a “very tangible contribution” to the school's focus on facilitating world-class education and training, in keeping with the goals of the Vision 2030 National Development Plan.

She said it was anticipated that the requisite equipment and other inputs would be in place soon. St Mary Technical High School, which is categorised as a STEM Academy by the ministry, has approximately 1,200 students on roll.

The STEM curriculum includes Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Integrated Science and Physics.

The school's performance in these subjects in the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) has ranged between 35 and 87 per cent over the past five years.

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