The National Information Technology Development Agency ,NITDA, has trained 178 young kids on robotics, drones artificial intelligence, coding and other in a period of two weeks.
The Director General NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa disclosed this on Friday in Abuja during the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program
The programme was organized by the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), a subsidiary of NITDA meant to drive research and development and Innovation in the emerging technologies areas.
Inuwa said “as we match towards the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), there is a need for a new strategy and innovative approaches to STEM education, such as the introduction of Artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging technologies into our educational system.
The NITDA Boss explained that ” Over the two weeks, they were immersed in various activities, thereby learning various technologies and skills ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Drones, Coding, Virtual Reality (VR), 3D printing, and digital communication, where participants were trained on how to tell their stories digitally using video and audio, including adding digital effects to their creations to make them more interesting and impacting” He noted.
He further said this year, NITDA SB4KIDS has trained almost two hundred (200) participants, with 96 junior kids and 82 senior kids. During the entire program, all participants were provided meals for lunch, writing materials and all necessary care to ensure that our youngsters had a very pleasant experience and a fun environment to aid their learning. Skilled NCAIR members took them through various technologies, on a journey requiring critical thinking and a high sense of curiosity in the world of science and digital technologies.” He explained.
However he said, “the quality of education, especially Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is deteriorating in our country, as evident from the recent performance of students in major national examinations.
Therefore, “The STEM Bootcamp for Kids (SB4Kids) is part of NITDA’s effort towards implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), particularly the NDEPS’s pillar – Digital Literacy and Skills.” He added
According to him, “NITDA believes that the early involvement of youngsters in technology and innovation will accelerate the development of the technology sector and create future technology leaders who will transform the Nigerian technology space and boost the Nigerian Digital Economy.”
Inuwa explained the motives behind the STEM programme saying , “One of the focus areas of NCAIR is Capacity Building. NCAIR capacity building initiatives are meant to facilitate the creation and adoption of emerging technologies in all facets of Nigerian lives. As an NCAIR’s catch-them-young initiative, the SB4KIDS is a Bootcamp to inspire young Nigerians in STEM”.
Through the SB4Kids, NCAIR engages youngsters between the age of 8 to 16 years in an immersive and well-articulated Bootcamp meant to coach and inspire them to imbibe STEM passion and create an early interest in digital and emerging technologies, which will hopefully shape their future careers in these fields. NITDA SB4Kids is a yearly initiative, normally conducted during the summer school holidays.
The DG disclosed that plans are on the way to expand it to the six geo-political zone by next year.
“We started this as a pilot here in Abuja and we have the plan by next year we are going to do it in the six geo-political zones; if it succeeds we will expand it to all states.” He stated
The National Director, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR),Yau Garba commended NITDA’s DG and encouraged the children to practice and put to use what they have learnt.
“The vision you have set up for ICT is what is guiding us in this country today and we know clearly that the right place to start is with our government , that was why we came up with this initiative because we feel that in the future we will have technology leaders”.
Some of the participants who spoke with Voice of Nigeria were excited and full of thanks to the Agency for organizing the training.
They also promise to put the knowledge into good use and also teach their siblings and friend.
This year’s SB4KIDS programme was conducted between 23rd August and 2nd September, in two batches. The first batch engaged youngsters between the ages of 8 and 11 years, while the second batch was for youngsters between the ages of 12 to 16 years.