The biennial Sagicor Visionaries Challenge took place today at the Ramada Belize City Princess. A dozen entries were submitted by five schools from across Belize District. The projects focus innovative business ideas encompassing the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. News Five’s Duane Moody was there and has this report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Sagicor Visionaries Challenge—it’s a competition that allows for high school students from across the country to come up with innovative ideas using fundamental academic tools from their CSEC syllabus. Biennially, schools would embark on innovative projects that will benefit their schools and communities using STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“It engages the students and the schools and so we support that because it advances our agenda in the ministry too. We like to see corporate partners give a hand in terms of building a society, but especially when it comes to education because that’s our agenda and we believe that this is of course the key to many of the developmental issues that we have here in Belize. So we salute Sagicor in this endeavor.”
This year, Sagicor Financial Corporation is celebrating one hundred and seventy-five years of providing services to the Caribbean. Entrepreneurship and investment in the youth is the way forward for sustainable development.
Marlene Chin, Corporate Communications Manager, Sagicor
“How do we ensure that we are around for another hundred and seventy-five years and really it is through an investment in our youth and ensuring that our youth ensures our future and that will be through the disciplines of STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Ensuring, as we highlighted this morning, the need for our own sustainable future.”
A total of twelve entries from five different high schools were submitted for this year’s competition. And they addressed various issues, including the regional problem of sargassum. The girls from Saint Catherine Academy decided to enter a more technology-based project, a mobile app to assist commuters who travel using the public transportation system.
Raquel Soler, Bolster App, Saint Catherine Academy
“Bolster App is the way the solve commuters nightmare. You know when you are at the bus station and you are always jammed and packed and you are waiting to see if this bus will come or not. With Bolster App you will be able to see if seats are available, not available; track the location of the bus, differentiate the prices between the buses; quality of the bus and you will be able to generate a ticket, secure a seat for yourself within advance time.”
The students of San Pedro High School are looking to a tropical fruit as the inspiration for their project. Papaya Power is a tea that the group is proposing as a healthier option to coffee.
Jennessa Sierra, Papaya Power, San Pedro High School
“What we notice as a group in our community is that people consume coffee way too much. They don’t think about the bad health benefits that it gives you. It doesn’t give you any health benefits at all. So what we did as a group is we created a papaya leaf tea to replace coffee and give them numerous health benefits at a cheaper cost. The studies show that the papaya leaf has enzymes that would boost your energy and help with digestion. It also has an abundance of vitamin C as well as vitamin A that will aid your sight.”
But what is the practicality of these projects becoming a reality?
“There might not be any direct from the Ministry of Education other than we support having the schools be a part of it and so on. But as you know there are many initiatives now that aim towards entrepreneurial support and the government has been big on that in the last couple of years. And we believe that it is important.”
“It also reinforces the need for the call to the Chamber of Commerce and its members to fund some of these projects and bring them to fruition.”