Nothing binds parents, guardians, teachers, education leaders, and children together as their shared belief in education. It is viewed as a conduit to realize one’s potential, innate self, natural fitness, and change one’s own course of life and socio-economic status – and that of family’s – for the better.
Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella organization of all Information Technology professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in Nigeria, has taken a bold step to securing a better future even for kids with interest in technology.
The 45-year-old Organisation, on Tuesday April 17, 2023, unveiled Tech Minds Initiative that offers hands-on experiences in coding, robotics, and even tinyML engineering – giving your child the opportunity to become a tech prodigy at a young age.
While launching the Initiative, Professor Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, emphasized that skill development and training helps instill emotional maturity in pupils.
Pantami, the author of the Book: ‘Skills Rather than Just Degrees’, applauded NCS for focusing on skills development as the most direct route for addressing the growing shortage of skilled manpower in the technology ecosystem.
The Minister who spoke through Sir ‘Demola Aladekomo, a computer engineer and chairman of SmartCity Resorts Plc., said Tech-Minds resonates with the Ministry’s agenda for Nigeria to attain 95% digital skills development by 2025.
He encouraged research bodies, private and government institutions to partner with NCS towards robust implementation of the paradigm shift Initiative which aligns with leading educational and technological countries like the United States of America, Finland and India, amongst other countries.
Speaking in his capacity as the Co-chair at Tech-Minds launch, Sir Aladekomo pledged SmartCity’s support of the initiative. he said they will donate facilities in Oyo State and the FCT with others coming up in Lagos, to ensure Tech-Minds Initiative becomes a reality.
Professor Adesina Sodiya, the President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), said over the years, the organization has concentrated, primarily, on developing members’ capacity at the level of professionals and students in tertiary institutions, hence kids have been left out of these educational programmes.
So, about three year ago we started looking in the direction of developing the Tech-Minds template, because all of the world we have seen what kids are doing. A Nigerian, at just 9-years-old, Basil Okpara, is reported to have built more than 30 mobile games. Like many others his age, Basil loves to play games but his fascination with gaming does not end at playing, his curious mind has led him into coding, leading him to come with dozens of game ideas. He is making a lot of money from those games now. Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) is very much interested in preparing our kids for the future; by developing, supporting and encouraging them”.
– Prof. Sodiya
“It is a fact that if most of our startup founders were tutored earlier about product development, and other tech skills, they would have performed better. There are lots of demised startups in our ecosystem which we have to find means to enable the upcoming generation of founders to perform better and do more for our nation. This is part of the foundation for Tech Minds”, he said.
Prof. Adesina said that NCS NEC has thrown the challenge to the State Chapters who have embraced it, wholeheartedly.
“We have developed the curriculum and comprehensive guidelines for hitch-free implementation. We have encouraged the State Chapters to move in collaboration with their respective State governments through the Ministries of Education, Science & Tech, SUBEB, for the implementation of Tech Minds and the feedback is already encouraging”, he added.
He said that the programme is targeted at young people between 6 to 16 years.
“As the umbrella body of IT professionals in Nigeria, we have to set the pace and continue to ensure that the nation does not have skilled manpower in the tech ecosystem. And Tech Minds is a credible platform to ‘catch them young’; that is, younger people who will be interested in joining and working with NCS.
He thanked Professor Isa Pantami, for chairing the occasion and for rallying the Ministry in support of NCS’ programmes.
Interestingly, reports suggest that young people between the age of 0-14 make up over a quarter of the world’s population, and this group is only growing.
To this end, Prof. Florence Babalola, Chairperson, Education and Manpower Development Committee at NCS, said that Tech-Minds is one of the numerous programmes organized by NCS with the aim of enhancing human capacity for national development.
She reiterated that Tech-Minds Initiative is part of NCS’ commitment to advancing technology in Nigeria, especially among young people.
“The vision is to educate and empower young minds, adding that children need to be prepared to work in jobs and use technologies that don’t yet exist”, he said.
Prof. (Mrs.) Adenike Osofisan, the Immediate Past Provost, College of Fellows of NCS, has to this say about Tech-Minds:
“This programme gladdens my heart. I believe it will be handled very well starting from the States to the national level. I want to be part of this in Oyo State by monitoring the process. I am passionate about safeguarding and guiding the young people. The NEC under Prof. Sodiya has done very well and deserve every commendation and support they can get from the members”.
Others who spoke at the occasion applauded the Prof. Sodiya-led NEC for this initiative.
Mr. Kole Jagun, the President and Chairman of Council, Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) CPN – said that science and technology hold the key to sustainable development in the world and Africa in particular hence corollary is that prominence must be given to educating young people in tech in the early stages of their development.
He lauded NCS for the programme that focuses on hands-on activities as essential components of an early childhood setting in basic technology education which may help in laying an early foundation for life-long learning and acquisition of science process skills.
In her remarks, Shulammite Ayobami, Chairperson, Audit Committee, NCS, said: “The earlier we catch the younger ones, the better for us. Tech-Minds goes a long way to show NCS does not downplay the future of tech that will be driven by skilled young people”.
She further called for State Chapters’ buy-in into the initiative and pushed it further for the benefits of kids in their localities.
There are many young people who are ready to learn. It is our duty to direct them to the right path. And this is another means to redeem the image of our nation while nurturing young minds to add value to the respective families and the society at large”.
– Ayobami added
On his part, Ayodeji Rex Abitogun, Chairman, Conferences Committee & Member, National Executive Council. Nigeria Computer Society of NCC, said that the education committee has done well by coming up with the initiative.
Continuing, he said, “Sustainability of the programme is key, and the need to ensure NACOS members have access to the platform will help take it to the next level”.
The session moderated by Mr. Adesegun Adekunle, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), attracted guests from within and outside Nigeria who joined virtually to witness the epoch-making event.