KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Scientific Research Council (SRC) is close to finalising phase one of a nine million dollar agriculture project at Carron Hall High School in St Mary that will significantly benefit students as well as residents of the surrounding communities.
The initiative, which entails the establishment a bio-digester system and a piggery unit, is expected to assist in boosting the school’s science syllabus while providing an additional revenue inflow option for the institution.
Coordinator for the SRC’s Science and Technology Unit, Amanda McKenzie, says that the undertaking is consistent with the agency’s mandate, noting that “the Council believes that science and technology should work for everyone…at the school level…the community level and the nation at large.”
She explains that the piggery unit, which will enable the school to sell the meat to the wider community, will have an environmentally-friendly waste treatment system.
Additionally, there will be a bio-digester system that will convert the resulting waste to fertiliser, which McKenzie says can be used on the school’s farm.
She further informs that bio-gas generated from the equipment’s operations can be used to fuel the canteen as well as potentially power the wider campus, while the other significant by-product, water, can be used to irrigate the school’s farm.
McKenzie points out that the bio-digester can be used as a demonstrative model to illustrate how science and technology can be optimally utilized to produce clean energy and enhance knowledge of animal husbandry.
In the meantime, the coordinator says the SRC will be developing a manual that provides the school’s teachers of Agriculture; Environmental Science; Biology; Geography, Engineering and Technical Drawing with information on how they can use the technology to impart aspects of their subject syllabi to their students.
She explains that a key objective of the project is improving in the youngsters’ external examination results which showed that, in the case of Agricultural Science, 30 per cent of the school’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) candidates in 2013 gained Grade 1, 40 per cent – Grade 2 and 30 per cent – Grade 3.
“We find that when we provide a physical demonstration or model, by giving the students a practical application of science and technology, they tend the grasp the information easier, and are able to transfer the information from one subject area to the others,” McKenzie says.
The school was selected as a beneficiary based on their being a part of the Improving Innovation Capacities in the Caribbean (INVOCAB) project, which focuses on science education and developing programmes and activities for select institutions, with a view to improving how the subject is taught.
Some of INVOCAB’S programmes and activities include summer camps; innovation competitions and non-traditional methods of imparting knowledge, which are incorporated in teachers’ lesson plans.
Following the completion of the Carron Hall High School project’s first phase, which began in November 2016, the SRC will implement a monitoring system to ensure that the all necessary standards are met, and provide general supervision and assistance designed to make the business component sustainable.
“Part of the project’s requirements is that 80 per cent of earnings or savings from electricity should return to the project so that (the school) can continue purchasing animals for the piggery,” McKenzie indicates.
The SRC has partnered with the Digicel Foundation, Food for the Poor Jamaica and the American Friends of Jamaica to undertake the project, which McKenzie notes is “an excellent example of public-private partnership.”