Mt Alvernia High gets new STEM classrooms, solar generator
MOUNT ALVERNIA High School in Montego Bay, St James, has increased its capacity to train its student cohort in mastering the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum, following the official inauguration of two renovated classrooms and installation of a solar-power generator at the school.
The classrooms, which will be used for physics and chemistry classes, and the generator, which will be used to power the entire campus, were presented to the school through Food For the Poor [FFTP] and the USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad [ASHA] programme, at a cost of J$155 million.
During the hand-over ceremony at the school, Maria Santamarina, FFTP’s director of government programmes, noted that the new STEM facilities will allow the school to help bridge the current global gender gap in educational opportunities.
“Although some countries have achieved gender equity in access to education, the results have not led to equal life outcomes for women. In other words, simply giving girls access to education is quite frankly not enough, and one possible solution lies in STEM,” said Santamarina.
“A strong foundation in STEM provides girls with unique skill sets that build their ability to be creative and global problem-solvers. These USAID-funded projects will allow Mt Alvernia High to have a sustainable STEM programme that will promote the advancement of girls’ education in science and technology, resulting in employment in these fields, especially in Jamaica where STEM is still male dominated,” Santamarina added.
According to data from the American Association of University Women, currently women make up only 28 per cent of the workforce in STEM-related fields globally.
In February 2022, Education and Youth Minister Fayval Williams suggested that the achievements of women in STEM fields should get more emphasis in order to inspire more girls to bridge the gender gap and upend gender stereotypes associated with the profession.
At that time, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz promised that the government would continue to provide the necessary support to help girls and young women harness their skills in STEM subjects.
In the meantime, Doreth Chambers, the chairman of Mt Alvernia High School board, thanked FFTP and USAID for the renovated classrooms and the donated solar generator, which will benefit the school’s 1,400 students.
“We are delighted that Mt Alvernia High School has benefitted from the collective efforts of two philanthropic organisations, and we are heartened that you all are here to share in the dedication of their vision coming alive. The core values, the mandate, the generosity, and the synergy of these two benevolent associations produced a bountiful harvest, and from the start they made the process smooth, being always knowledgeable, clear, receptive, and goal-oriented,” said Chambers.