On 2 September 2014, the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Seychelles, the Government of the Dominican Republic and UNESCO organized a side event that provided a platform for four young scientists to advocate for improved science education and the promotion of careers in the sciences for young people in SIDS.
The meeting was chaired by Professor Rolph Antoine Payet, Minister of Environment and Energy and Chairperson, (Seychelles) and four young scientists made presentations: Mr Ben Anthony Bacar MOUSSA (Comoros,) Ms Katenia RASCH (Samoa), Dr Bhama RAMKHELAWON (Mauritius) and Ms Alexandra V Destin PIERRE (Haiti).
The writing is on the wall. There is need for SIDS to use Science Technology and Innovation (STI) in a more comprehensive way to achieve sustainable development.
The speakers suggested ways in which their countries might tackle this challenge. One way is by strengthening investment in science and mathematics education. Katenia mentioned the need for this in Samoan schools – to improve the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) but also to recruit more interest in STEM from students.
Furthermore, a well-trained workforce tends to pursue additional learning opportunities, and improves investors’ confidence which is important factors for achieving economic stability. Greater investment of SIDS countries in STEM education and more exposure of young people to careers and opportunities in the sciences will be empower SIDS youth to tackle the challenges faced with their regions providing that the economy is able to utilize their skills and knowledge.
A second recommendation is encouraging young women and men to pursue science related careers and entrepreneurial opportunities. Good quality education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) improves the employability of young people economic competitiveness, productivity, growth and social transformation of countries.
Thirdly, the need for Science Technology and Innovation (STI) policies at the national level were proposed. These policies provide a holistic framework for the improved governance of science within SIDS by linking knowledge to markets and decision making.
Additionally there needs to be improved cooperation between SIDS, in partnership with Universities, research networks and private sector entities in balancing the demand for skills and services with the human resources available.
The major recommendations of the young scientist on the panel included:
Greater efforts need to be made in SIDS to encourage young people to pursue careers in the sciences particularly to address priority island issues such as water, waste management, youth unemployment, climate change, degradation of biodiversity, sustainable use of energy
Science education and the popularization of science in SIDS are important mechanisms to encourage young people and society to invest in science
Improved teacher training in the sciences plays an important role in ensuring quality education in SIDS
Strengthened STI policies in SIDS can facilitate improved connections between market demands and knowledge production, skills training and labour mobility, and thus ensure job and entrepreneurial opportunities at home for young SIDS scientists and reduce brain drain
Emphasis on creating opportunities for girls and young women should be part of STEM policies in schools
Greater efforts should be made to include indigenous knowledge and local resources in finding solutions that address the challenges faced by SIDS
UNESCO is committed to following up on the major outcomes of the SIDS conference through the implementation of an Action plan based on the Samoa Pathway.