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Govt to leverage Ai, design thinking in schools

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By Abraham Adekunle

Transforming education with Nigeria's leap into AI and robotics.

In a bid to revolutionize education and prepare students for the future, the Federal Government of Nigeria has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative. Design Thinking, Coding, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (DTCRA) are now being integrated into the curriculum of newly established smart schools across the country. This ambitious move, spearheaded by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), aims to equip learners with the essential skills needed to propel Nigeria’s technological advancement. Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, unveiled this transformative initiative during a workshop held at the Digital Resource Centre (DRC) of the Commission.

Emphasizing the government’s commitment to fostering innovation, he highlighted the importance of nurturing critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities among students. By integrating DTCRA into smart schools, UBEC envisions producing globally competitive learners poised to drive Nigeria’s development agenda forward. The workshop, themed “Integrating Design Thinking, Coding, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (DTCRA) into the Smart Schools Programme,” gathered experts from academia, the private sector, and UBEC. Prof. Bashir Galadanci, the National Coordinator of DRC, underscored the collaborative effort to chart the best course for incorporating these essential skills into the educational landscape. This holistic approach ensures that the curriculum aligns with industry demands and fosters innovation from an early age.

AI and robotics transforming education via smart schools.

Mr. David Apeh, the spokesperson for UBEC, highlighted the Commission’s recent establishment of 37 smart schools nationwide. These institutions, strategically distributed across each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, signify Nigeria’s commitment to embracing technology-driven education. With 14 schools already operational, students are immersed in modern teaching methodologies and cutting-edge technologies to enhance learning outcomes. As Nigeria embraces the era of smart education, the integration of AI and robotics holds immense potential for transforming traditional classrooms into dynamic hubs of innovation. Beyond the basics of coding and design thinking, these emerging technologies offer limitless possibilities for student engagement and skill development.

One of the key pillars of smart schools is the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the learning process. AI-powered educational tools personalize learning experiences, catering to individual student needs and fostering a deeper understanding of complex concepts. Adaptive learning platforms, powered by AI algorithms, analyse student performance data to tailor lesson plans and provide targeted interventions. This personalized approach not only enhances academic achievement but also cultivates a lifelong love for learning. Moreover, robotics plays a pivotal role in cultivating hands-on learning experiences and nurturing problem-solving skills. Through robotics clubs and workshops, students gain practical exposure to engineering principles, electronics, and programming.

What students can achieve with robotics and environmental science.

Building and programming robots not only stimulates creativity but also instils resilience and perseverance as students navigate through iterative design processes. These practical skills are invaluable in preparing students for future careers in STEM fields and beyond. In addition to AI and robotics, Design Thinking emerges as a cornerstone of the smart schools curriculum. This human-centred approach empowers students to tackle real-world challenges through empathy, creativity, and collaboration. By encouraging students to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and prototype innovative ideas, Design Thinking fosters an entrepreneurial mindset and cultivates leadership qualities. As students engage in hands-on projects, they develop the confidence and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the modern world.

Furthermore, the integration of AI and robotics in smart schools goes beyond traditional subject boundaries, fostering interdisciplinary learning opportunities. For instance, students can explore the intersection of robotics and environmental science by designing autonomous drones for environmental monitoring. Likewise, AI-powered simulations can enhance understanding in subjects like mathematics and physics, providing interactive virtual laboratories for experimentation. As Nigeria strides towards a knowledge-based economy, the significance of AI and robotics in education cannot be overstated. By equipping students with the tools and skills needed to thrive in the digital age, smart schools pave the way for socioeconomic development and global competitiveness. However, the success of this initiative hinges on collaborative efforts between government agencies, educational institutions, and the private sector.

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To ensure the sustainable implementation of DTCRA in smart schools, stakeholders must prioritize teacher training and professional development. Educators play a central role in facilitating technology integration and nurturing students’ digital literacy skills. Therefore, ongoing training programs and mentorship opportunities are essential for empowering teachers to embrace innovative pedagogies and leverage technology effectively. Moreover, investment in infrastructure and access to digital resources are critical to bridging the digital divide and promoting inclusive education. Equitable access to high-speed internet, computers, and educational software is essential for maximizing the potential of AI and robotics in underserved communities. By investing in digital infrastructure, Nigeria can democratize access to quality education and unlock the latent talents of its youth population.

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