Youth Changing The Story
For most of today, students from 6 high schools countrywide have been participating virtually in the Youth Innovation Challenge.
This competition is part of the Peacework initiative from the international accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which receives support from the Ministry of Education. Since 2007, PWC has been sending thousands of its employees to Belize to teach financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The Youth Innovation Challenge was crafted 7 years ago to test the ingenuity and creativity of high school students. In this competition, students are given a real-world problem to tackle, and they must come up with the best ideas on how to address it.
This year's challenge focused on 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship in a developing Belize'. Given how the COVID pandemic has devastated the economy, it gives these young people an opportunity to present ideas for businesses that could be successful in this currently harsh climate.
But, because of the pandemic, this was the first year that the finalists had to present their ideas via teleconference, and not face-to-face with the judges.
7News stopped by today to talk with the Chief Education Officer about this year's challenge and some of the ideas that the high schoolers have come up with. Here's that conversation from this morning:
Dr. Carol Babb - Chief Education Officer
"The Youth Innovation Challenge is a competition where young people are expected to come up with a solution to a problem, to a challenge. So, we've been having this competition for the last 7 years."
"This year, the challenge is Innovation, the Pathway to Successful Entrepreneurship. So, we're hoping that these young people from these 6 schools that are participating today, that they will help us to understand how innovation can lead to a successful business. What we're trying to encourage young people to do is not so much to look for a job, but to create jobs. So, we want them to be very innovative, to think outside the box. The purpose of the competition is to encourage critical thinking to be very critical -minded, not just to accept things, but to really dissect it and understand why things happen the way they do. It also gives them an opportunity to speak publicly. So, it develops their public-speaking skills. It also develops their writing skills because they need to produce a 1-page summary."
"We have six schools which have made it to the finals. From the south, we have Ecumenical High School. From the west, we have 2 schools: Sacred Heart and Belmopan Baptist. From the Belize District, we have Ocean Academy from Caye Caulker, Edward P. Yorke, and Excelsior High School."
"They will present virtually to the judges. The judges are here, but the teams will present virtually. So, they will come on, explain what their products are, and they will try to market it. They will also show examples. They will also show pictures. Their marketing plans, they will also show a summary of their solution to the problem."
After the judges' scores were tabulated this evening, Ocean Academy was declared the winner. Each student on the winning team and their mentor teacher will be awarded $750 and a tablet.
The Stann Creek Ecumenical High School placed second, and each student on that team will be given $500 and a tablet.
3rd place went to Excelsior High school, and each student on that team will be given $250 and a tablet.
All 3 schools will be awarded a laptop.