UWI and JPS Foundation partner to stage workshops for STEM subjects

IT is anticipated that approximately 10,000 students will benefit from improved Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) results in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects with a $16-million fillip from the Jamaica Public Service (JPS).

The JPS, through its foundation, has entered into a five-year partnership with The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, to fund the staging of the school’s CAPE workshops over the period.

The UWI Mona campus has been hosting a series of CAPE workshops since 2003 to increase students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and improve their performance in these areas.

Both institutions formalised this partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the JPS’s New Kingston head office on Thursday.

President and CEO of JPS Steve Berberich said the initiative is aligned with one of the key areas of focus of the JPS Foundation — science and technology education — and enhances the foundation’s efforts to support students pursuing STEM at the secondary and tertiary levels.

“The country of Jamaica has enormous potential, and I believe the world is at a major inflection point now where we can invigorate young minds to participate in this inflection, and the inflection I’m talking about is this dramatic change in the way we power energy, the way we use energy, and the way we decarbonise our entire system. STEM education is going to be critical for this great country to stay abreast and to develop its economy and create great jobs for its people,” he said.

“JPS and its foundation believe this is core to development. So we’re happy to support this initiative to help…to prepare students for the CAPE exam and to make sure that we can further [build on our] outreach [in the STEM area],” he said.

In the meantime, deputy principal, The UWI, Mona, Dr Tomlin Paul said the occasion represented “that moment where two institutions are coming together to build a partnership around an initiative that has a lot of good and potential”.

He noted that The UWI started doing workshops to aid CAPE students 20 years ago and has “had the privilege of nurturing and supporting some 33,000 students to date across Jamaica”, covering the subject areas of biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, mathematics, and physics.

“These students have reported that they have benefited from this; they love the content, they love the teachers, and more than that their interest in science and technology has increased, and that is what we want really when we look at the impact that this programme can have. Really, what we [are] producing is STEM-capable and STEM-motivated students for Jamaica. What it means is an investment in Jamaica’s development. We know that STEM is a critical area for Jamaica,” he said.

He noted that in signing the partnership with JPS and the JPS Foundation, The UWI is increasing the impact of the programme and adding value, in terms of supporting schools, some of which are not fully equipped with labs and the technology system.

“So The UWI is stepping in to say we’re also partnering with these schools to help these students and we’re really, in a social justice kind of way, opening the door for more students, a wider group of students across jamaica to benefit from the CAPE examination and, therefore, higher education across tertiary institutions,” he said while thanking JPS for its support in making this happen.

Also expressing his gratitude for the partnership was associate dean, external engagement, Faculty of Science and Technology, The UWI, Mona, Dr Andre Coy, who said the signing marked a milestone in the journey of education collaboration and empowerment as both entities embark on transformative exercises that will play a part in shaping the futures of countless minds.

“The JPS/UWI CAPE workshops agreement…brings together JPS’s commitment to innovation and The UWI’s dedication to education, creating an avenue through which aspiring new students can engage in the STEM workshops at the university. Through this partnership, we can bridge the gap between classroom learning and mirrored application, offering these young minds a glimpse into the exciting possibilities that STEM fields hold,” he said.

Dr Coy said the collaboration is not just about the workshops “but about lighting a fire of curiosity and nurturing a love for learning. It’s about fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. It’s about offering these students an opportunity to interact with experienced mentors, faculty members, and industry experts who will guide them on their journey through exploration.”