Jamaica News: Over $3 million in cash and prizes were awarded to the top performers in the 2019 Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) Schools Energy Programme Competition.
Approximately 90 students, aged six to 19, from primary and high schools islandwide participated in this year’s renewal, which was held under the theme – ‘Using Natural Resources to Generate Renewable Energy at Your School’.
The students were asked to, among things, build a solar cooker that utilizes sunlight for energy.
The competition culminated with an awards ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Friday (June 28), which saw students of Cornwall College in Montego Bay, St. James, topping the entrants.
They landed the coveted $500,000 project implementation grant, and won prizes in the science, essay, jingle and poster competitions.
Cornwall College will also receive technical support from the PCJ to execute an energy efficiency and conservation project at the school.
Other category winners were: Half Way Tree Primary and Kingston Technical High which also copped the main sectional prizes in the science competition; and Somerton All-age and Infant, Kingston Technical High and Manchester High schools, which won their respective essay competitions.
Additionally, Hague Primary School, Wolmer’s Girls School, and Hampton School emerged winners in the poster competitions, while Hague Primary, New Forrest Primary, Harbour View Primary and Somerton All Age and Infant School took the top spots in the jingle contests.
The Schools Energy Programme seeks to heighten youth awareness about energy issues by, among other things, exposing them to energy-efficient products, technologies and practices.
It also gives students a first-hand look at traditional and renewable energy technologies and introduces them to courses of study and careers in the industry, for exploration and pursuit.
The Programme has, in this regard, engaged more than 2,000 students from 120 schools islandwide through tours and seminars during the 2018/19 academic year.
Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams who spoke at the event, praised the students for their innovations.
“I have seen all the entries and I was very impressed… I saw a lot of enthusiasm; I want to commend you all for participating. You are learning skills in an industry that is expanding globally and locally,” she pointed out.
Noting that a significant percentage of Jamaica’s energy is currently derived from renewable sources, Mrs. Williams said based on the country’s generating capacity, an estimated 18 per cent of the output will be supplied through renewables by as early as 2020.
Consequently, she encouraged the students to pursue careers and interests in this growing industry, pointing out that “the technology is changing and it is being adopted globally”.
The Minister also commended PCJ for initiating the Schools Energy Programme, and encouraged them to continue fostering innovation and educating young people about the opportunities in the sector.
Meanwhile, PCJ’s Acting Group General Manager, Brian Richardson, who also spoke at the ceremony, said the initiative is growing, noting that the number of participating students increased from 2,220 in 2017/18 to 2,284 this year.
Additionally, he said 308 entries were submitted for this year’s competition, up from 266 in 2017/18.
“With increased interest and enthusiastic participants, I have been told that the judges continue to have a tough time because of the high quality of the entries. Over the years, the PCJ Schools Energy Programme has been exposing primary and high school students to energy issues by making it fun and interesting for our participants,” he said.
Mr. Richardson encouraged the students to share the knowledge gained through the Programme with their colleagues.
“I [also] want to encourage you to continue to practice everything you have learned about energy efficiency and conservation, and help the adults around you to do the same,” he said.
Nearly 11,000 students from 840 schools have participated in the Programme since its inception in 2003, with approximately $17 million in cash and prizes being awarded to the winners of the various competitions.