As a past national scholar, Kamal continues to burn his light bright, this time in the field of technology. As we continue our discussion we learn a bit more about his thoughts on education in svg, some of the work he has done, and his aspirations for the future.
Do you think that our curricul[a] should be reformed to be more balanced?
“…I think that we should do that…trying to get the society in general valuing trades, like celebrating a lot more of those achievements like how we celebrate academic and sporting achievements. One of the great things about St. Vincent is that we celebrate academic and sporting achievements, so maybe we need to celebrate artisanal achievements and persons being great and varying trades.”
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you knew at 18?
“…Growing up in a small island, we grow up very well prepared for things,academically, lifewise and so on. Once you travel a bit and you encounter other people from other places, and they are very capable, but in general they are not better than us. I think growing up in SVG and doing well in SVG there was that fear, this feeling, ‘are we actually that good or is this just because this is a small island?’
“…In some things we prepare our people really well and we should be aware of that so we put ourselves forward for regional and international opportunities…so that thing is that we have something that compares favourably with people all over and we should put ourselves out there…”
You have worked for a health- tech start-up and a remittance start-up, what are they?
“…Health-tech is trying to bring new technologies to health. [The company I worked for] had two main sides, one was trying to use artificial intelligence in primary health care. Primary health-care is the type of health care that you use as a first point of call…when you go to a doctor for a routine examination or if something is wrong. Usually for a doctor to find out what is wrong he/she will ask a lot of questions to rule out possibilities. The idea here was to train computers to be able to ask questions similar to what a doctor would so that, instead of going to a physical doctor, you can use an app and enter your symptoms and then it can give you advice based on that or save you time when you go to a doctor…
“The idea with [the remittance start-up] and it started with mobile money wallets…[was] if I send money to you on the app, then instantly or near instantly, you get it on your phone and then you can use it to buy things…there are no more lines outside Western Union and it tends to be cheaper than the existing forms of remittances. So if I am in England having a drink and it’s my brother’s birthday, I can then and there send him money for him to have a drink…”
Why do you think our society is not being pushed towards incorporating technology more?
“…I think sometimes you do not recognise those benefits unless you have other things in place…you might want to do something to make money or develop the country, but to do that you might need to have a bunch of things in place, and those things don’t look as if they will make you money. Sometimes you have to experiment, or sometimes it might be that people do not understand the value of it because it is not very closely connected to making money…
“There are also other things like, it may be that people in charge might think certain data may make them look bad…”
What’s next for Kamal?
“…I think there are lots we can do with more tech, so if I could find somewhere to start, that will be good…I am open to potential and possibilities in general, but I am really curious about stuff in the Caribbean or that will directly affect the Caribbean…So it might be a consultancy, or it might be government work…it might be remote working so it might make sense for me to start a company and employ some local people to work remotely on stuff around the world. I didn’t know what remote working will look like until this job that I am in currently- I don’t know what the next step will look like and I am trying to prepare myself…”
Kamal Wood is a software engineer and senior Rhodes Scholar.