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Geography Awareness Week set for Nov 11-17

Sunday, October 01, 2017

This year's staging of Geography Awareness Week (GAW) will be dedicated to promoting the use of geography and the relevance of the subject to youngsters and the country.

GAW is being hosted by the National Spatial Data Management Division (NSDMD) from November 11 to 17, 2017.

Speaking at a recent Jamaica Information Service Think Tank, manager and assistant trainer of the Geography Information Systems in Schools Education Programme (GISSEP) at the NSDMD, Jumaine Remikie, cited the value of having youth understand the importance of geography and how it can serve them in their academic and professional pursuits.

“Geography is core and should be right on top with mathematics, English and others. Without understanding the way the world interacts, we cannot move forward. GAW is to promote its use,” he said.

The week's activities will be highlighted by GIS Day on November 15, which will see participation from schools across the country and more than 20 government entities as well as private stakeholders.

The events throughout the week form part of year-long activities by the NSDMD, an agency of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Land Information Council of Jamaica, which it administers, and to create awareness about geography. The activities are being done under the theme 'Geospatial Technologies — Mapping Our Way to Secure Communities'.

“The students use it as a great avenue to see the different careers available to them when they graduate,” Remikie explained.

He further said the event will be used to promote GIS technology and how it is applicable in a range of fields and subject areas.

The week's activities will include a career session as well as a series of events for different audiences, such as a technical session for individuals in academia and an executive forum for the business sector to focus on the use of GIS in security and public safety.

According to Remikie, after 11 years of hosting GAW and 15 years of GIS Day, the NSDMD has recorded consistent expansion in the response and impact of the events.

“Over the years, we have seen a tremendous impact. There has been a major uptake, and the use of GIS data has increased. We have also seen this in terms of the increasing number of students who turn out for GIS Day. We love this growth; it's very encouraging to us and we want to see it continue,” he said.

Some 1,000 secondary- and tertiary-level students are expected to be in attendance.

“The numbers really demonstrate that people are starting to appreciate the subject and see the benefits,” Remikie added.

Leading up to GAW, the NSDMD is also hosting a jingle, poster and essay competition, which encourages students to submit entries focused on GIS and the use and value of geospatial data by the October 27 deadline. Participating schools have been provided with the information relevant to the competition.

GAW is facilitated through the GISSEP of the NSDMD, which has a mandate to ensure that the Government and the public are aware of GIS, how it is being utilised in society, as well as how GIS technologies can lead to economic growth and sustainable development.