Mrs Elizabeth Adedigba, Director, Technology and Science Education Department, restated this commitment at the opening of a two-day Federal Unity Colleges’ First Lego League (FLL) Robotic competition at Queen’s College, Lagos, on Friday.
The competition, organised by the Federal Ministry of Education, in collaboration with CODERINA Education Technology Foundation, has ‘RePlay’ as its theme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CODERINA foundation is an independent not-for-profit foundation that works to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
It also has a strong focus on capacity building for African youth in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship.
According to Adedigba, if Nigeria must meet up with the challenging needs of the people, there was need to grow technology by exposing the children to its space at an early age.
”I am aware that CODERINA Education Technology and Foundation has been so much committed to the training of Nigerian students and teachers across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
”The Federal Ministry of Education is proud to identify with this organisation, most especially in the promotion of robotics technology.
”I want to also commend the principals of these Unity Colleges for their support towards the robotics programme and in ensuring that the students acquire the modern digital skills of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
”I must also commend our host Principal, Dr (Mrs) Tokumbo Yakubu Oyinloye, for the bold steps she took in this direction, the ministry is proud of you.
”We will stop at nothing to ensure that students of our Unity Colleges are given all the necessary support needed to ensure that they are well packaged, prepared for the future and ready to compete with their peers globally in the area of technology,” she said.
Adedigba further noted that Nigerian children, aside formal teaching and learning, must be exposed to innovation, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, collaboration and leadership skills.
According to her, today’s world is moving towards AI and, therefore, the need to catch the children young in a bid to get them ready and make them relevant to 21st century demands.
She noted that the best performing schools and students from the region would represent the Federal Ministry of Education at the 2020/2021 annual challenge at the national level, later in the year.
Earlier, in her remarks, the Principal of Queen’s College, Yakubu-Oyinloye noted that today’s regional competition encompassed all the unity colleges in the southern part of the country.
She stated that the competition was in four categories; core values, robot design, project design and programming.
Yakubu-Oyinloya added that the aim of the competition was not just to win, but to prepare students to fit into the new world of robotics, coding, programming and AI.
”You know that these are all the things that are relevant to the society today.
Among other things, the competition would teach our students patience in problem-solving and bring out their hidden potentials in the world of technology.
”That of the northern part had just been concluded in Kano, and today we have all the unity colleges in the southern part, comprising South west, South South and the South east, converging here with their teams to participate in the competition.
”We must begin to bring out the hidden talents of these children now, through this kind of competition, because robots are being built all over the world to increase productivity in homes, offices and other places.
”So, our children also need to be prepared, to fit into the modern world of technology that we are in. They need to be abreast with technological advancement to remain relevant in their various areas of endeavour and put Nigeria in the forefront, where ever they are,” she stated.
She enjoined the participants to put in their best and strive to win, but more importantly, they should ensure that the rubbed minds and learnt new things.
Mr Femi Niyi Chairman, Board of Trustees of the foundation, said the FLL had been in Nigeria since 1914.
”In 2018, we went into collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, where we piloted 22 schools. After the pilot, the ministry instructed that all its 109 unity colleges should key in and so currently, we are training the 109 of them across the country.
”Over the last six months, the students have been exposed to programming, building robots, research, investigation, critical thinking, as well as designing solutions that will impact their environment, based on the theme for this year, which is ‘RePlay’.
”The replay is talking about ways of making sporting activities more interesting, enhance certain sporting activities that are around, tackle challenges that are associated with sporting activities and various other aspects.
”The students have been asked to go and think and build models around such areas and come up with solutions which is what the competition is all about today,” he stated.
He added that whatever they come up with as solution to these areas and build things in those areas, could be developed into a winning solution or something economical.
According to him, in the world today, everything was being driven by technology, hence the need to start catching them young, noting that even in everyday life one had to apply critical thinking.
”When you engage children in things like this, you begin to engage their minds by making them think critically to solve problems.
”We are not teaching them, rather we allow them to express themselves, bring out that hidden talent, discover their own reasoning.
”Again, our nation will not be producing young people who will be those searching for white collar jobs, but rather, ensure that the next generation are people that will be inventors.
”We want the next Bill Gates out of Nigeria. It is at this stage that you build their critical thinking capacity. They don’t all have to be inventors, but you must have engaged their minds constructively.
” So, we are building the next set of leaders who will be technology savvy and approach things differently,” Niyi said.
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