__#1 in the world!
There is a Chinese proverb that says: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” To that I would add, if you are planning for lasting change in this world, educate girls!
A few days ago I was so thrilled to hear that five Nigerian girls from Regina Pacis Model Secondary School (Onitsha, Anambra State) won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch competition in Silicon Valley, California. Need I say more? Wow…
The young winners (ages 12-14), competing in a team they named “Save a Soul,” were: Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye. Their team came out on top of 12 finalists (chosen from about 2,000 teams from 115 countries) who were invited to travel to California this month, eventually defeating other finalist teams from countries like the USA, China, Spain, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Wow!
__Per the specs of the competition, each team developed a mobile App to solve a problem they had identified in their own communities. Wow, wow, wow, again!
Huge congratulations to the #TeamSaveASoul, and their mentor, Mrs Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, founder of Edufun Technik STEM, who was invited into the school to tutor and train these young girls.
# What was the problem identified by these five young African techno-stars?
They were worried about the high number of deaths in Nigeria resulting from use of fake drugs. (Nigeria is seen to have one of the world’s largest markets for counterfeit drugs, they said).
# And their solution?
They developed the “FD-Detector” (Fake Drug Detector) mobile app which scans a barcode to help confirm that the drug is not fake, and also checks its expiration date.
Working with their mentor (with support from global sponsors like Oracle), it took the young students about five months to design this mobile App, also using coding and robotics insights, in designing their solution.
Watch one of their pitches and be inspired:
The Technovation World Pitch competition is a program of a US NGO called Iridescent that offers girls ages 10-18 in 100+ countries the opportunity not just to learn programming skills, but also to put on a #SolutionMindset and imagine ways to use technology to help change the world… (sound somewhat familiar?)
While 2018 was the first time ever that the Nigerian team made it to the junior finals (let alone win…) let me also say a belated congratulations to the Nigerian senior division girls team (ages 15-18) that took the gold in the same competition in 2015, for developing a mobile App to tackle waste disposal in Nigeria. Wow!
I am sure you will be interested to know that this year’s senior division Technovation competition was won by a team from India who developed an App to track and dispose of electronic waste by linking recyclers with e-waste producers. Congratulations to them as well!
This is really amazing work, but there is so much more to be done, across our globe…
According to official estimates (UNESCO) there are about 130 million girls in the world (ages 6-17) who are out of school. Of those, 15 million are of primary school age. They estimate that half of that number in sub-Saharan Africa will never enter a classroom…
Could this be true in this day and age?
The Proprietor of the amazing Regina Pacis Model Secondary School — a school I would respectfully love to visit just as soon as my schedule allows — is the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, the Most Rev Valerian Okeke. He has remarked that “no sacrifice is too much in educating our children.”
I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to visiting as soon as possible!
Meanwhile my congratulations once again to #TeamSaveASoul, mentor Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu and her team, and everyone in Nigeria church, government and civil society who helped play a part in this victory last week as well as the international sponsors of this inspiring prize. If you want to find out more go to https://technovationchallenge.org
What can we learn from this global victory for Africa? Let’s talk.
I want to write a series about inspiring schools and technology hubs around the continent.