By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Anambra State has scored yet another first in intellectual attainment. Six students of Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha, have excelled in a global competition and are due for a trip to the United States to represent Nigeria and Africa at the World Pitch Competition holding in San Francisco.
Governor Willie Obiano, who received the trailblazing students at the State Executive Council Chambers, Government House, Awka, on Monday, August 1, was visibly elated at their performance and announced a cash donation of N1 million to the teacher of the students and N500, 000 each to the six students while undertaking their US trip. He also directed that Robotics and Coding teaching technology be replicated in other schools in the state.
The students who were trained in Robotics and Coding Technology in solving science technology, engineering and mathematics problems placed first in Nigeria for designing a Fake Drug Fighting application.
The competition was held in Abuja in May, and was organised by a U.S.-based NGO, Technovation.
The six winning students are Adaeze Onuigbo, Miracle Igboka, Nwabuaku Osai, Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita and Vivian Okoye. They are in the Senior Secondary School 2 class.
Following the 2018 Technovation triumph, the students are due to travel to Silicon Valley, U.S., for the World Pitch Competition. This will include a week of networking, field trips and workshops.
The competition in the US will provide the students the opportunity to win between $5,000 and $15,000 in scholarships to pursue further studies in the Science Technology, Engineering Education (STEM) field.
“The contest will also sharpen their skills and improve their knowledge of applications,” said Mrs Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, the trainer and founder of Edufun Technik STEM Centre. “Robotic and Coding Technology simplifies the learning of sciences for secondary school children.”
Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu is the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow and a 2018 Barrack Obama African Leadership Fellow. She revealed that in January 2018 her agency, in partnership with Technovation, volunteered to teach groups of young girls the skills they needed to emerge as technology entrepreneurs and leaders.
According to Mrs Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, “We do this by inviting girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it. With our support and guidance, the girls worked in teams to build mobile App and business plan to lunch the App with the guide of the Technovation curriculum. We formed two teams of 10 girls who worked toward building two mobile Apps.
“The first team is known as Team Feed the Nation (Senior), and they produced iFOOD application, which helps the farmers to maximize their profit and ensure the safe consumption by consumers. It also provides a platform for the farmers to deal directly with the consumers. This will help to curb the problem of hunger in our society as farmers will be able to make more profit through this application.”
The technologically savvy Mrs Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu continues: “The second team, known as Team Save a Soul (Junior), produced FD-Detector (Fake Drug Detector), which helps to identify fake pharmaceutical drugs in Nigeria. The Application leverages a drug’s barcode to verify its authenticity and expiration date.”
On their participation in the contest, Mrs Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu informs: “After we submitted our Mobile Apps online to compete with the rest of the world, our two Mobile Apps were shortlisted for regional pitch in Abuja to compete with 36 other Teams/Mobile Apps.” She noted that the girls were the only ones coming from the entire Eastern region.
The girls receiving their award after emerging winners
At the end of the regional competition in Abuja, the senior category took the 1st position while the junior category also placed 1st too. This qualified the Anambra Teams for the semi-final, enabling them to compete with not less than 115 countries and about 1,500 mobile Apps.
The concluding words of Mrs Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu are indeed remarkable thus: “The chances of emerging as finalists seemed very odd because other countries appeared to be more advanced in technology than these girls who for the first time are using the internet and opening an email account for the first time in their lives. The determination in them and the passion to solve problems of fake drugs kept their hopes alive as they knew it was a lifetime opportunity.”
This is indeed a lifetime opportunity for the students to make Nigeria and Africa proud. They will equally be opportune to visit the biggest technology industries in the world such as Google, Facebook and IBM. They will also network with other students to learn more about what careers would be available in STEM for them.
Two of the girls, Igboka Miracle and Promise Nnalue, said that the training exposed them to many opportunities to be connected to the world. They were full of commendation for Governor Obiano for embracing measures that would enhance proper learning and improving their productivity.
For Governor Obiano, it marked yet another first in his drive to put Anambra State always in front in educational pursuit in Nigeria. In WASC, NECO, JAMB and so on, Anambra has always been the state to beat. The icing on the cake is that Anambra State is always rated as having the least fraud in all examinations unlike other states that deploy the so-called “magic centres”.
It needs to be recalled that on Monday, January 18, 2016, the Anambra State contingent to the World Junior School Mock Debate held in Singapore presented to the state Executive Council the trophy it won as the best team.
A mathematics teacher from Anambra State, Mrs Rose Nkemdilim Obi, emerged as the best teacher of 2015. The team of speakers from public schools in the state won the Inter Basic Debating Competition, beating their counterparts from 35 other states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, in the contest marking Nigeria’s 55th independence anniversary. Another team from the state had won the 2014 competition.
It is cool by me to put this tradition of excellence in perspective given that Governor Obiano himself was the winner of the John F. Kennedy Memorial essay Competition organized by the American Embassy in 1974 when he was a student of Christ the King College, (CKC) Onitsha!
Let’s conclude with the uplifting words of Mr. C. Don Adinuba, Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, “A state which has produced Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alex Ekwueme, Ukpabi Asika, Louis Mbanefo, Emeka Anyaoku, Arthur Mbanefo, Chike Obi, Kenneth Dike, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo and Olaudah Equiano, among other internationally renowned personages, has to be the pacesetter in enlightenment and enthronement of enduring and productive values.”