Gov’t awards $40M for STEAMS projects tar­get­ing so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

The Gov­ern­ment of Guyana through its In­no­va­tion Pro­gramme on Fri­day awarded $40 mil­lion in grants to 24 groups and 13 Sci­ence Tech­nol­ogy Engi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics (STEM) clubs to fund pro­pos­als to solve so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

No­table among the win­ning pro­pos­als was the Au­tono­house project, the brain­child of ar­chi­tect Renée Reynolds and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy pro­fes­sional Rowen Wil­l­abus of In­tel­lec­tS­torm, which re­ceived a grant of $10 mil­lion. Au­tono­house hopes to pro­vide a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion to prob­lems cre­ated by squat­ting. It is pre­fab­ri­cated hous­ing so­lu­tion, which of­fers de­sign flex­i­bil­ity, on­site main­te­nance and speed and mech­a­ni­sa­tion in con­struc­tion.

In May of this year, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion called on Guyana’s youth to de­sign, de­velop, and pro­duce in­no­va­tive ideas to foster a green econ­omy us­ing Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, Engi­neer­ing, Agri­cul­ture, An­thro­pol­ogy, Ar­chae­ol­ogy, Ar­chi­tec­ture, Arts, Math­e­mat­ics and Spir­i­tu­al­ity (STEAMS).

Specif­i­cally, they were chal­lenged to pro­pose a so­lu­tion to so­ci­etal is­sues or over­come chal­lenges through the ap­pli­ca­tion of STEAMS along with a bud­get/es­ti­mate.

Though the pro­gramme was ini­tially open only to par­tic­i­pants be­tween the ages of 16 and 35, Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Ni­co­lette Henry ex­plained on Fri­day that re­sponse was so over­whelm­ing that the min­istry was pro­pelled to re-or­gan­ise the Youth In­no­va­tion Project of Guyana into the In­no­va­tion Pro­gramme of Guyana.

“We have been in­un­dated with so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges of flood­ing, over­crowd­ing, school dropouts, and il­lit­er­acy; the is­sues of men­tal health, gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health; the prob­lems of bul­ly­ing, poverty, and food in­se­cu­rity,” she told those gath­ered at the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Day rally at D’Ur­ban Park.

Th­ese so­lu­tions, she ex­plained, poured in from most re­gions across Guyana. “We have heard from our cit­i­zens. They have out­lined the prob­lems and prof­fered so­lu­tions. Th­ese so­lu­tions, un­doubt­edly, form the frame of ref­er­ence for non-for­mal ed­u­ca­tion in Guyana. Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­tor Re­form will be en­hanced when ev­ery Guyanese is en­gaged in ca­pac­ity build­ing, is con­tribut­ing to res­o­lu­tion of is­sues, and is en­gaged at an un­prece­dented level of tol­er­ance,” Henry fur­ther noted.

While a spe­cific num­ber of ap­pli­cants was not re­vealed, the min­is­ter said that

al­most half of the pro­pos­als have been funded.

The other pro­pos­als awarded grants in­cluded the Hosororo Vil­lage, of Re­gion One (Barima-Waini), with a pro­posal for al­ter­na­tive liveli­hoods for the youth through Sci­ence, Ar­chi­tec­ture, Agri­cul­ture and Math­e­mat­ics.

Also suc­cess­ful was the Kabak­aburi Vil­lage Coun­cil, of Re­gion Two (Pomeroon-Su­pe­naam), which, ac­cord­ing to Brigette Hinds, Man­age­ment Con­sul­tant of the project, joined with youth of the vil­lage to pro­pose a friendly space for the learn­ing of the Arawak Lan­guage, a build­ing of a mu­seum and a skills-train­ing fa­cil­ity.

The Build­ing Bridges Foun­da­tion, of Re­gion Three (Esse­quibo Is­lands-West De­mer­ara), re­ceived a grant for its pro­posal for in­no­va­tive ways of sewing and per­form­ing jan­i­to­rial ser­vices for women and youth em­pow­er­ment. Its pro­posal cov­ered the pro­cure­ment of a train­ing centre for sewing and jan­i­to­rial ac­tiv­i­ties. Ad­di­tion­ally, the com­mu­nity of La Par­faite Har­monie, also of Re­gion Three, pro­posed a neigh­bour­hood beau­ti­fi­ca­tion project.

The African Cul­tural and Devel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (ACDA) also re­ceived a grant for pro­posal for a green­house for food se­cu­rity as well as a youth avi­a­tion camp in­tended to teach the youth to fly in a safe and com­pet­i­tive air­line en­vi­ron­ment.

Also re­ceiv­ing grants were the Green Guy­hoc, which pro­posed a project us­ing agri­cul­ture, engi­neer­ing and ar­chi­tec­ture to achieve co­he­sive­ness and sus­tain­able growth, and the Non Pareil Airstrip Green­house club, which pro­posed the use

of non-biodegrad­able ma­te­ri­als for con­struc­tion.

St Cuth­bert’s Mis­sion got a grant as well for its pro­posal of a Benab project as did the Youth Min­istry of the Guyana Con­fer­ence of Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tists for a Youth Em­pow­er­ment Project to be sit­u­ated in Bar­tica, Re­gion Seven (Cuyu­niMazaruni). This project is ex­pected to pro­vide vo­ca­tional skills, so­cial en­rich­ment, men­tor­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

Also funded are the SWAP Mo­bile App, which en­cour­ages the bar­ter­ing of goods and ser­vices un­der the slo­gan “learn, earn, con­nect and save,” and “Tech­nol­ogy for Spe­cial Needs” pro­posal to as­sist chil­dren who are phys­i­cally chal­lenged through the use of tech­nol­ogy to in­crease their ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

A $125,000 grant was also awarded to the stu­dents of the Queen’s Col­lege Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Club, which teamed up with the Univer­sity of Guyana to pro­pose a project called “Ful­fill­ing a Co­conut’s True Po­ten­tial.” This project aims to re­place for­eign-made soap with a sus­tain­ably-pro­duced Guyanese prod­uct. This prod­uct will be cre­ated through the saponi­fi­ca­tion of co­conut oil and wood ash.

(Photo by Keno Ge­orge)

24 groups and 13 Sci­ence Tech­nol­ogy Engi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics (STEM) clubs were awarded $40 mil­lion in cash grants through the In­no­va­tion Pro­gramme of Guyana. Here, Prime Min­is­ter Moses Nag­amootoo (at centre with cheque) stands with some of the awardees.

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