Conferences Science & Tech

DSN wants government to make data science a priority study in schools.

By Samson Akintaro

To drive economic growth, stakeholders want government to revamp educational system to make technology a priority study

Data Science Nigeria (DSN), a non-governmental organisation, driving knowledge in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related fields, has urged the Federal Government to include AI in secondary school curriculum.

This, the group said, would help the country build a crop of young technology enthusiasts that would drive socio-economic development.

Speaking at the AI Summit organised by the body, the convener of DSN, Dr Olubayo Adekanmbi, said the NGO had set a target of raising one million AI talents in the next 10 years.

“We believe that building a local data science/big data/AI ecosystem will position Nigeria to become the outsourcing hub for international Data Science/Advanced Analytics/Big Data projects with opportunity to access 10 per cent share of the global data science outsourcing projects, worth $3.3 billion in revenue by 2020,” he said.

Adekanmbi said the group’s expectation was that by 2025, every Nigerian child under-10-year old should understand the concept of AI and its applications. The DSN convener said that as a nation of 200 million people, with median age at 18 years, “it is important to prepare the young people for the future by exposing them to the right skillset; especially when we know that most of the jobs we know today will go into extinction in the next 5-10 years.

“So, the question is what becomes of our country with so many young people who are lacking in the right skills for the ‘future jobs.’ That informed the whole idea of Data Science Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Skill Building. It has become a mandate. We have taken up the responsibility to say: it is not going to be the son of a rich man or an average man; wherever they are in this country, have access to the same knowledge that students in San Francisco, Paris and London have access to by creating a book that will be distributed free. We are not going through the traditional model ‘I buy for my child’ rather ‘you buy for a community or the whole school’. The approach is: make knowledge in a simplified manner.

“The second thing is to build a system that will allow that knowledge to be passed. That is why we are working with various State Governments. We are going to run a lot of ‘train-the-trainer programmes, where we will equip the teachers to also know because you can only give what you have. We are going to train the teachers in AI. Afterwards, we are going to give them a few copies of the Book. It is going to be on batches till we reach every part of the country.”

In a keynote presentation at the summit titled, ‘Artificial Intelligence for Development,’ distinguished Professor (Emeritus) and Director of Intelligent Systems Research at Oregon State University, Prof. Thomas Dietterich, described AI as catalyst for economic advancement.

According to him, although the developing economies still lag behind in some areas with regard to AI adoption and applications, organisations like Data Science Nigeria, have shown clear roadmap capable of putting the country on the right footings and build the national competitiveness given the right skills set.

He emphasised that developing AI-enabled weather management solutions, for instance, would assist the continent address some challenges faced by farmers, thereby leading to improved food production/sufficiency.

Dietterich said that with the growing community of AI enthusiasts and learners, Nigeria and indeed Africa would witness a major boost in skills needed for research and development focused on bringing applied artificial intelligence solutions to existing community problems.

Culled from New Telegraph

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