During an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) on Tuesday, July 21, Dr. Ricardo Neil, Founder and Chairman of SKNRA, gave some insight into the programme.
“We have a robotics group that is going to be activated for September depending on how things go which is going to be classified the afterschool robotics programme. So, we are targeting an afterschool robotics programme to get more of the youth involved,” said Dr. Neil.
Dr. Neil explained the importance of implementing a programme of this nature.
“One of the reasons why we are doing this and why we are pushing it is because science and technology is one of the biggest industries across the world and we find that most of our dependence in the Caribbean region is on a lot of stuff outside of science and technology,” he said, noting that a large percentage of the European Union’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is as a result of science and technology. “Now, if 83 percent of their GDP is so high because of science and technology, it therefore means that if we get a chance to get the young people in that area from early then we stand a better chance of having an industry within St. Kitts and Nevis within that area.”
He noted that young people see this as something that can propel them and the country on a whole.
“We see it as a driving force in St. Kitts and Nevis because it is a change in the dynamics of how we present data to students in terms of problem-solving. If we get them to solve problems then it means that down the road, they are going to solve greater problems,” he said. “That is how most of the other territories function – on a problem-solving basis – so I want to make sure that we are along that path also.”
In terms of support, Dr. Neil said that because the association is new, they are pretty much on their own for now. However, in the past, the team was supported by the Ministries of Education, and Justice and Legal Affairs whenever they had to travel to compete.
SKNRA is currently 60 plus members strong with a board and executive directors formed from members of the Private Sector. As the first of its kind in the Caribbean, SKNRA aims to set a standard within the region that regulates the production and research of items relating to Information Technology and Computer Science. The organization not only will encourage the establishment of other Robotics/Information Technology Associations but also intends to create legislations which will protect the Intellectual Property rights of individuals’ research projects. In this way, SKNRA is hopeful that the Caribbean can reach a higher level of regional integration through the advancement of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and in turn improve the scale of technology in all member states.