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Creating innovators

Minister Haynesley Benn overlooks one of the displays today.

by Kimberley Cummins

Barbados is often described as a nation of consumers, however Camp Destiny is aiming to develop a culture of innovators.

The seven-week summer camp is hosted by the National Council on Science and Technology of the Ministry of Commerce and Trade.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon at the closing and prize giving ceremony, Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, said Barbados was looking for innovators. He described the camp as the catalyst for children who would not need to borrow technology from Europe or the United States but instead develop their own, sell it to the same countries, earn foreign exchange and make money for themselves.

While touring the St. Stephen Primary School in Black Rock, St. Michael today he said he was very impressed with the work of the youngsters, who ranged in ages six to 11. They were four displays: Medicine and Health, Earth and Climate, Botany and Zoology and Information and Communication Technology. This was the third year for the camp which hosted more than 90 participants.

Benn added that based on what he saw, he was anxious to see the numbers increase.

“Last year we had only a limited amount of funds for the camp and when I came and saw what they were doing I was impressed. I made a commitment that in the preparations of the estimates for the year 2011-2012 that we would make sure that we add to what was there.

“If life be spared and I am given the same opportunity seeing what progress has been made this year, seeing the development, seeing the skills that have been put together by the students here I pledge to seek to have some additional funds — it is money well spent.

“These people are budding scientists and we have to encourage them, we have to accommodate them, we have to make sure that the things that they are doing that we just don’t let it die here today and I am looking forward to increased numbers next year,” he said.

Additionally, the minister acknowledged that his ministry was very committed to the future development of the children so the NCST had funds available to accommodate young scientists and young innovators to move from one stage of entrepreneurship to another.

The funds, he said, were specifically geared towards ICT.

“There is an amount of $1.2 million left in the fund. We have been providing grant funds for persons who present projects. The project are examined carefully by the department and are then sent up to the permanent secretary. The limit that we offer is $100,000 per project. We are trying to help as many as our young people with very good projects that can be of assistance to the country and its development.

“The system is geared towards taking what they learn here at the camp and developing them.

“What is necessary is for the Ministry of Commerce and Trade to work very closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure that the schools are well equipped with the facilities that would aid these children to continue with what they have done here.

“The Ministry of Education has its own programme so it should be a collaborative approach. I am looking for that type of linkage. There are other people who yearn to have linkages between agriculture and tourism, agriculture and the environment, agriculture and education and we too have that urge to have a linkage between the Ministry of Commerce and Trade and the Ministry of Education,” he said.

During the seven weeks the campers participated in various activities and toured Harrison’s Cave, the Concorde Experience, the Barbados Wildlife Reserve among other places. This afternoon they displayed some of what was learnt. They executed experiments, rendered a song about the solar system, performed skits as well as a debate. The parents, family and friends gathered were very amazed by what their loved ones learnt and what was on display thus applauding accordingly.

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