Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports
House of Assembly
Release Date:
Saturday, 4 November 2023 - 7:41am







Madam Speaker, I am delighted to address this Honourable House today regarding the visit of our innovative and dedicated team to the prestigious FIRST Global Robotics Challenge, which was held in Singapore from October 7th – 10, 2023.  Our team’s participation in this event holds great significance, as this was our territory’s first opportunity to participate in a global competition that advances the technology of Robotics.

As Minister for Education, I am immensely proud of the brilliant students who represented our territory in this competition.  K’Dyah James, an eleventh grader at the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies, and Amani Brown, Jayron Gibson and Denae Scatliffe-Chalwell, eleventh graders at the Elmore Stoutt High School, all exhibited exceptional commitment, tenacity, ingenuity, innovation and a willingness to learn during the preparations and competition. The dynamic team was closely supported by Mr. Andre Roberts and Mrs. Carren Cuffy-Jules, two exceptional educators from the Elmore Stoutt High School and Lauren Welch, Education Officer for Information and Computer Technology and Renee Weston, Education Officer for Science.

The FIRST Global Challenge is an exceptional platform that unites young minds from all corners of the world, encouraging them to collaborate and innovate in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.).  Madam Speaker, over one hundred and ninety countries participated in this event. Our team's participation in the FIRST Global Challenge underscores this Government’s commitment to fostering excellence in S.T.E.A.M. education.  It serves as a testament to the tireless efforts of our educators, parents, and mentors who have nurtured the talents of these bright young minds. Through their dedication and passion, we are nurturing the innovators and problem solvers of the future.

This year's FIRST Global Challenge, Madam Speaker was not just a mere competition; it was a call to action. It encouraged participants to address pressing global issues through robotics and artificial intelligence. Our team did not only show case their technical skills but also made a profound statement about their dedication to addressing real-world challenges. Through participation, we were able to highlight to the world the depth of our local talent, the strength of our education system, and the bright future that lies ahead for the Virgin Islands.Team BVI was recognised for their valiant efforts and placed 143rd out of 191 participants.

The FIRST Global Robotics Challenge was organised to foster networking and collaboration among the participants.  As the world becomes more interconnected, it is vital to have a workforce and citizenry that can collaborate on a global scale.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) are areas where international collaboration is common, and preparing citizens for this is essential. As Minister, I was extremely proud of the ease and willingness of our team to interact and collaborate with students from across the world, creating alliances that then competed against other joint forces.

Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to commend our students for their hard work, perseverance, and unwavering spirit. I also extend my gratitude to the coaches, mentors, and all those who have supported and guided them along this incredible journey.

Madam Speaker, while in Singapore, the delegation visited the National University of Singapore and toured the Advanced Robotics Centre where college students work hard to create innovative solutions to today’s problems. Singapore is known for its strong emphasis on education and innovation, and the National University of Singapore is a prominent institution in that region. The Advanced Robotics Centre is an exciting place where students and researchers work on cutting-edge robotics technology and solutions to address contemporary challenges.

The Virgin Islands has benefited from partnership with the National University of Singapore through educational initiatives in collaboration with H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) to capture the opportunities presented by Artificial Intelligence, block chain, cloud, cryptocurrency and data technologies through training.

Madam Speaker, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are indeed the future of the world, and it is crucial for our territories and nations to prepare their citizens to interact with and harness the potential of that these technologies have. Investment in robotics and AI education and infrastructure will ensure that the BVI can stay competitive in the global economy. These technologies can lead to increased productivity, efficiency, and innovation in various industries, giving us a significant economic advantage.

To maintain a high level of success in the face of technological advancements, territories must prioritize education, research, and investment in robotics and AI. This includes both formal education systems and ongoing training for the current workforce. By doing so, territories can empower their citizens to thrive in the future and contribute to the global development and responsible use of these transformative technologies.

Madam Speaker, at the First Global Challenge the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (O.E.C.S.) countries present engaged in discussions around a shared vision and determination to create a regional platform, the O.E.C.S. Robotics Association, to support the development of innovation, technology, creativity and collaboration through robotics in the region.

Since returning, the Ministry has already engaged in further meetings to ensure that the Virgin Islands plays an avid role in the formalization of this regional partnership. Out of discussions in Singapore, we are also excited and elated that a regional competition, The O.E.C.S. First Regional Challenge is being planned and we look forward to the BVI’s participation in this inaugural and innovative regional event.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education eagerly anticipates increased participation from the British Virgin Islands in future challenges. Our enthusiasm stems from the fact that we currently have hundreds of students actively involved in our S.T.E.A.M. Innovations course at the secondary level. This groundbreaking course has been designed to provide our students with a comprehensive education in S.T.E.A.M. The course is a platform for students to explore the realms of coding and robotics, instilling them with essential skills and competencies that are not only pertinent to today's rapidly evolving world, but also vital for their success in the future. The course also emphasizes digital literacy, critical thinking, and innovation attributes that are indispensable for our students as they venture into the 21st century world.

Madam Speaker, as we look ahead, the Ministry of Education is committed to expanding and enhancing opportunities for our students by ensuring that they receive the education, exposure, and support needed to excel in an ever-changing world. We thank the community for their unwavering support and the FIRST Global organization for their support of the team this year. We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for our students and our beloved British Virgin Islands through exposure to robotics and artificial intelligence.

Thank you Madam Speaker.