Robotics: We must unlock students’ potential – FG

The Federal Ministry of Education has reiterated its commitment to developing technology potential of the Nigerian student.

Mrs Elizabeth Adedigba, Director, Technology and Science Education Department in the ministry, gave the assurance 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 was organised by the ministry, in collaboration with CODERINA Education and Technology Foundation.
The competition had the theme: “RePlay”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CODERINA Education and Technology Foundation is a non-profit organisation that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

It also has a strong focus on capacity building for African youths in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship.

According to Adedigba, if Nigeria must meet up with challenging needs of it’s people, it must grow technology by exposing children early to its space.

”I am aware that CODERINA Education and Technology Foundation has been so much committed to training of Nigerian students and teachers across the six geo-political zones.

”The Federal Ministry of Education is proud to identify with this organisation, most especially in the promotion of robotic technology.

”I want to also commend the principals of these unity colleges for their support toward robotic programme in making sure that students acquire modern digital skills of artificial intelligence.

”I must also commend our host Principal, Dr (Mrs) Tokunbo Yakubu-Oyinloye, for the bold steps she took in this direction; the ministry is proud of her.

”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 and prepared for the future and ready to compete with their peers globally in the area of technology,” she said.

Adedigba said that Nigerian children must be exposed to innovation, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, collaboration and leadership skills.

According to her, today’s world is moving toward artificial intelligence compelling early preparation of children to cope with 21st century demands.

Earlier in her remarks, the Principal of Queen’s College, Yakubu-Oyinloye, noted that the competition was for all unity colleges in the southern part of Nigeria.

She said that the competition would be in four categories: core values, robot design, project design and programming.

According to her, the aim of the competition is not just to win, but to prepare students to fit into the new world of robotics, coding, programming and artificial intelligence.

”You know that these are relevant to our society today.

“Among other things, the competition will teach our students patience in problem solving and bring out their hidden potential in the world of technology.

”That of the northern part has just been concluded in Kano; today, we have all the unity colleges in the southern part of the country comprising South West, South South and the South East, converging here with their teamd in Queen’s College, to participate in the competition.

”We must begin to bring out the hidden talents of these children through this kind of competition because robots are being built all over the world to increase productivity in homes, offices and other places,” she said.

The principal said that children should be prepared to fit into the modern world of technology.

“They need to be abreast with technological advancement to remain relevant in their various areas of endeavour and put Nigeria at the forefront,” she added.

She enjoined the participants to put in their best and strive to win.

The principal urged that the participants should rub minds and learn new things.

Mr Femi Niyi, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the foundation, said that the FLL had been in Nigeria.

”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; so currently, we are training the 109.

”Over the last six months, the students have been exposed to programming, building robots, research, investigation and critical thinking, and have come up with solutions that will impact their environments based on the theme for this year, which is ‘RePlay’.

”Replay is talking about ways of making sporting activities more interesting, enhancing certain sporting activities that are around, tackling 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, this is what the competition is all about today,” he said.

According to him, the world is driven by technology and requires 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 those hidden talents and discover their own reasoning.

”Our nation should 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,” he said.

The chairman said that the foundation was committed to building tomorrow’s leaders who would be technology savvy and approach things differently.