I want to first thank former President Obasanjo for allowing RoboRAVE Nigeria to use this amazing facility.
It is a pleasure to be here.
Mr. President, your support for education in Nigeria, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in particular, is admirable.
I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge Mr. Kingsley Amode, the head of RoboRAVE Nigeria, Russ Fisher-Ives director of RoboRAVE international and Brian Montoya, director of RoboRAVE North America.
On behalf of Ambassador Symington and the people of the United States, I am very pleased to be able to support this event.
As I said in Lagos this week, this robotics training and competition is the first such event in sub-Saharan Africa.
And, based on what I saw in Lagos – the enthusiasm of the participants, the expertise of the trainers – I expect that this will become a model for all of Africa to follow.
As many of you know, there were two days of training in Lagos. During the two days more than one hundred teachers from public and private schools and IT entrepreneurs were trained.
Today nearly 200 students and their teachers are here to learn, innovate, think, and have fun. I can feel how excited you are to get back to your robots so I promise to not talk for too long.
The question I was asked in Lagos was “why is the United States supporting robotics education?” How is this going to help Nigeria?
As acting Special Representative Thomas Debass said, “because robotics touches on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it can capture the imagination of children and young adults around the world and provide a platform for global partnerships and economic development.”
Ambassador Symington and the entire U.S. Mission Nigeria are deeply committed to supporting Nigeria’s economic development.
Children who receive STEM education via robotics training will be better prepared to solve real life problems with more creativity, critical thinking and effectiveness.
These are the tools that they will need to compete effectively in the global economy.
Additionally many developed countries have based their continued economic growth on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM.
Through the RoboRAVE program Nigerian children will be inspired to learn more about the importance of STEM and the importance of creation, innovation, and product development.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special word of encouragement to the girls and women here.
We know that around the world girls and women are underrepresented in both STEM education and STEM careers.
To the girls here – don’t give up. If this is your passion – pursue it!
As a final note – this is only the beginning of our efforts to support robotics education in Nigeria.
Between November and February of next year Kingsley and his team will visit schools in the 12 participating states to monitor and support the integration of robotics education in the classroom.
Additionally, RoboRAVE will hold events in 2018 in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Benin, and Ibadan to expand access to robotics education.
I will end with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. Education is a powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
I will stop so that you can get back to changing the world.