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The Journey From Behind to FIRST

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York (JCOBA-NY) Decade-Long Journey to Revolutionize STEM Education in Jamaica

Acting Assistant Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Sophia Forbes Hall (left), looks on in amazement as Chief Executive Officer of the NCB Foundation, Nadeen Matthews Blair (centre), operates a robot built by the Jamaica College (JC) robotics team. Member of the JC team, Michael Woods, provides instructions on how to operate the robot. Occasion was Wednesday’s launch of the NCB Foundation’s National Robotics Championship at the NCB Wellness and Recreation Centre in St Andrew. The competition will be held at the JC Auditorium from February 24 to 25. (Photo: JIS).

In 2009 the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York (JCOBA-NY) decided that something had to be done to improve STEAM education in Jamaica. A plan was developed outlining ways to achieve the upgrade of 30,000 students in advanced STEM applications by 2030. Our '30by30' initiative was born, and JCOBA-NY decided to test the concept with the launch of the robotics program at Jamaica College (JC).

Following an extensive review of robotics programs in NYC schools, in 2009, the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York negotiated with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), leading to the acceptance of JC in the 2010 FTC qualifiers for the New York City region. This was historic for JC and FIRST as it was the inaugural (and still only) entry of a foreign team in domestic USA qualifiers.

The brilliant decade-long performance of JC in FIRST USA competitions was the fuel that enabled the successful bid by JCOBA-NY for Jamaica's FIRST franchise. The franchise rights required us to prepare the framework and select the leadership of FIRST's Jamaican affiliate while guaranteeing, through an indemnity, the ability to host ALL FIRST's competitions. Thus Jamaica's FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC Jamaica) was birthed in 2019, and perhaps most consequentially in terms of national development...the primary-level FIRST Lego League (FLL) is to be launched in 2023.

We are grateful to FIRST USA and FTC Jamaica for the wonderful successes to date and anticipate many more in the future.

As FTC Jamaica prepares for the 2023 National Robotics Championship, it is with great pleasure that we laud the title sponsor, NCB Foundation, for their commitment to advancing STEM education in Jamaica. We are also delighted that the Ministry of Education has committed to integrating STEM into the Jamaican education system.

As the founding sponsor and indemnitor of the FTC Jamaica franchise, JCOBA-NY is proud to have played a pivotal part in bringing this vision to fruition.

Best of luck to the 200 students from 29 High Schools who will be participating in the upcoming FTC Championship, which will be held at the Jamaica College (JC) Hendrickson Auditorium from 24 to 25 February 2023.


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