How one educator in the Caribbean is making STEM education more accessible to students
News > The Caribbean
By STEM Caribbean | Posted on July 24, 2020
Online education became increasingly popular within the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One Caribbean educator is embracing this change and has made a progressive step with STEM education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the wider Caribbean.
Mr. Petrus Gumbs, Founder and Director of STEMSVG, and his team have transformed the annual STEMSVG Summer Program to the STEM Educational Institute, a digital space that removes geographical limitations making this year’s summer program more accessible.
“STEM Educational Institute is specifically for youths, and it would allow us to reach even more youths across the country and region who would like to be part of the program and are unable to physically attend because of finances or geographic location,” Mr. Gumbs told STEM Caribbean.
The launch of the STEM Educational Institute couldn’t be timelier as many events and programs had to be cancelled or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the STEMSVG summer program is currently underway on the new online platform, thanks to a Promotion of Youth Micro Entrepreneurship (PRYME) Government grant of $40,000 (ECD), which Mr. Gumbs received. He expressed that this grant was useful in purchasing new equipment and developing the online platform.
Students in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and even the wider Caribbean region can now access courses and resources all-year-round entirely online from STEMSVG’s STEM Educational Institute. The courses are grouped into three categories: primary, secondary, and non-curricular, providing an opportunity for students as young as 7 years old to learn and discover the wonders of STEM.
When Mr. Gumbs founded STEMSVG in 2011, he saw great potential in the young people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. That year he ran the program using personal funds and launched with 18 students. The next year, he developed the program and hosted it at St. Martin’s Secondary School. One of the goals of the program has been to foster innovation and creativity.
“It [the program] is designed to encourage and guide the youth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to use their knowledge, not just for the traditional academic classwork but to develop creative and innovative content and show that they can be on par with other youth of developed countries,” he expressed.
Mr. Gumbs believes many students in the Caribbean region can be described as “regurgitators of information” rather than innovators or problem solvers. They often memorize theories and recall information for exams, or recite statements from a textbook word for word. He thinks this form of learning provides little to no value to the students.
“Today, we do not want regurgitators. We would like to foster a generation of problem-solvers. To this end, using working social development theories from Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) we have developed a program and a set of curriculums to be an engaging, exciting and practical guide for students who it will be applied to,” he said while assuring that the STEMSVG program was designed to place students in a comfortable environment with the necessary tools to help them learn and create.
The program is facilitated by dedicated professionals and educators who contribute to its success. To sign up for a course or learn more about the programs offered, visit the institute’s website.