By Denroy McTair
As St. Vincent and the Grenadines journeys on the path towards development, a substantial amount of attention should be focused on the progression of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and the important role it can play in the economic and social advancement of our society. From an economic standpoint the country is already at a disadvantage possessing only a few natural resources that are exploited within the fisheries and agriculture sector, therefore, this lack of natural resources should instinctively lead to a reliance on forward thinking in order to propel economic amelioration.
We should therefore encourage a culture where ideas can be investigated, hypothesis tested, and where theories can be home grown. One way this can be done is through the creation of a scientific research centre which would translate to an investment in innovation and research with focus on the appropriate technologies which can be tailored to our local circumstances. This would be the ideal action to boost our educational, agricultural and industrial systems where we can yield a potential return on investment through patents and discoveries.
For generations we have practiced the culture of the use of bush and root medicine, an area where further research can be done to capitalize on the development of patents. The investigation and creation of certain materials that can withstands disasters which could be incorporated in our building code, big data collection and investigation, pathogenic research for E.coli and other bacteria on beaches especially where hotels are located and waste from industries are discharged, these are just a few opportunities that we can embark on with the establishment of our own scientific research centre.
A planetarium can be viewed as a complement to the scientific research centre where it serves the purpose of educating the nation on astronomy whilst shaping the minds of aspiring astronomers and astrophysicist in our country and region. Yearly camps and conventions can be held to foster a transitional approach towards the scientific field in academics by exposing students to a hands-on and visual experience. Individuals would have an in-depth understanding of how space exploration has shaped the world we live in today; the way it has influenced the devices we use, the things we eat, laws and regulations we abide by, among other things.
Why Campden Park? As the former location of the Campden Park Experimental Station (CPES) and current home to the Plant Protection and Quarantine Headquarters and Soil Laboratories, this community would be a perfect place to establish a scientific research centre and planetarium which would benefit the academic, social and economic development within the area. The community of Campden Park is known as the “industrial” area in our country since it’s home to most of the factories hence, this marriage between institution and industry would create the perfect environment for innovation and sustainable development and practices.
Since science is seen as a universal instrument of growth, developing countries such as ours can make a significant contribution to the scientific world by resolving problems at a lower cost and with less resources. We can reduce brain drain by providing opportunities for persons academically inclined in the STEM field and nurture those who have an interest in it. An investment in this field can position our country as a leader in scientific research within the region and catapult our development.