Science in Jamaica – Setting the baseline for improvement.

Science in Jamaica – Setting the baseline for improvement.

Author: Zahra Oliphant – Ministry of Science Energy and Technology, Jamaica

Within the western hemisphere, Jamaica has a history of scientific ‘firsts’, being among the first to commercialize electricity and to build a residential piped water system. Jamaica has contributed globally to the emerging field of nutraceuticals, particularly as it relates to diabetes and anti-cancer treatment. However, in light of the country’s scientific achievements, investment in scientific Research and Development (R&D) is low, amounting to less than 1% of GDP. This is also evinced by the low number of patents filed annually, averaging only 10 per million population.

In order for government, public bodies and investors to increase their level of investment in R&D, the importance of Science and Technology (S&T) has to be effectively communicated to these entities. Additionally, the public’s role in decision-making for S&T is underscored by how effectively the importance of science is communicated to the populace. It has been demonstrated in other jurisdictions that low public awareness of science is a reflection of low levels of R&D investment at the policy level. It is therefore important that the level of scientific awareness and literacy of the Jamaican populace be determined as this will set the baseline against which the effectiveness of future science programmes can be measured.

The poster for this visual talk will highlight the following as it relates to Jamaica:

  • History of Science and Scientific Achievements
  • Low R&D investments
  • Structure of the National S&T Survey to be carried out
  • Results of the pilot S&T survey on the public’s attitudes and awareness of science.
  • Preliminary conclusions linking public’s attitudes, knowledge and awareness of Science to low R&D investments, as well as, how effectively science is being communicated to the public based on pilot survey results.
  • Future Outlook: How the results of the national survey will assist the country with improving science communication and increasing investments in science.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication