SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Jamaican philanthropist, innovative entrepreneur, and economic development advisor Victor Lowe was moved to tears last Friday as his dream of seeing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) laboratory opened at his alma mater, The Manning's School, became a reality.
Lowe, the main benefactor of the STEM lab, said it was a good day, and that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are academic disciplines that are front and centre in the world today.
He told the students that the world is their oyster, and that they should never forget that.
"The STEM centre is nothing more than a vessel. Members of staff are needed to guide these young and capable minds — the passengers — in making this vessel fully functional and worthy of its intent," said Lowe.
The centre will facilitate the launch of the 285-year-old high school's ambitious 'Brain STEM' programme.
Through this initiative students from all grades at the school will have the opportunity to incorporate robotics, coding, and general science, along with mathematics and engineering, into their curriculum.
In her address, Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams welcomed the opening of the facility which has been dubbed the Victor Lowe STEM Centre.
Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the STEM lab, Williams was effusive as she welcomed the addition to the Manning's curriculum.
"I am really excited for this focus here on STEM education," said Williams as she pointed out that Jamaica's education system has been on a transformation track for a number of years.
"The Ministry of Education and Youth is committed to providing and enabling an environment that prepares our students to take their place as global citizens. We see it as our duty to build a school network that is adaptable and dynamic, yet cohesive," added Williams.
In the meantime, chairman of the Manning's High School Board, Moses Chybar expressed gratitude to those who contributed to the state-of-the-art facility.
"We are really grateful, first of all, for the STEM centre being established and we are grateful for the persons who contributed before — the past students' association (the Florida chapter, the New York chapter), most of all Victor Lowe who has single-handedly contributed well over $50 million to the project," Chybar said.
Jamaica National Bank also donated $1 million to the project during the ceremony and Chybar said that contribution was "quite a bit of gravy".
He noted that the building will now need technological equipment to retrofit the centre, and that the school welcomes additional funding.
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