Alexandria, VA. – FIRST Global (www.first.global) is hosting the world’s first international robot Olympics for high school students this July in Washington, D.C., with nearly 160 nations in attendance, including more than 40 nations from Africa.
With each nation planning to send one team to represent their home country at this first-of-a-kind global event, participating teams will include representatives from every corner of the world, ranging from rural parts of Latin and South America, to the industrialized powerhouses of Europe and Asia, to peaceful and violence plagued regions of Africa alike.
Full list of participating African nations below:
With a mission to spread science and technology leadership and innovation amongst the world’s more than two billion youth, FIRST Global has worked hard to ensure that countries from all six populated continents would be represented at the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge – especially those that have the most to gain from investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and infrastructure.
Like many regions of the world, Africa has been faced with innumerable challenges that threaten the continent’s stability and overall security, from severe droughts and water-related diseases, to unresolved military and social conflicts that too often prevent African youth from obtaining the same quality education as countries that are not faced with such life disrupting realities. Despite the everyday sacrifices students and their families make to attend school so that they can one day contribute to their nation’s’ development, the investments necessary to advance education in the region are understandably unfulfilled.
FIRST Global is committed to working with all nations to underscore the importance of STEM education in order to create more secure and prosperous livelihoods so that all peoples and nations can economically benefit. No one can accomplish this task on their own. Financial and logistical help from interested governments, nonprofits, and corporations is imperative to ensure that students across Africa will be able to obtain the fundamental STEM education they require to help find 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.
A few of the African countries that have already committed to participate in this year’s FIRST Global Challenge, among many, are Rwanda, Mali, Tunisia, and Tanzania. They – like so many others – understand that their nation’s youth are their most valuable resources, and that this untapped treasure has the potential bring about immense changes across the continent.
For example, in Rwanda, a young technologist named Neza Guillaine who is mentoring her country’s team knows that “by engaging young people in STEM, we help development to be accelerated in our nation”. Her students want to develop and implement technologies to help people across Rwanda live easier and more fulfilling lives – like one team member who hopes to use his knowledge of robotics and STEM to create new ways to help those with disabilities.
Rwandans, like many other Africans, also believe that the role women play in developing technology in the region will play a crucial role in Africa’s economic future. Not only is FIRST Global hosting a number of all-female or female-majority teams in this year’s event, but over 60 percent of the teams attending the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge were either founded, organized, or are being led by women. For example, FIRST Global participants like Team Tanzania want to continue working hard until all students, regardless of sex, have equal opportunities to explore STEM activities.
In an effort to inspire an interest in STEM and technology innovation, one member of Team Tanzania even appealed to women across the region to join the countless women who are already contributing to the development of technology. He did this by talking about his mentor as a vivid example of how despite all the challenges and obstacles African women face in STEM fields and everyday life, that they can excel in the field that has historically marginalized them and are just as capable as any male peer.
For the students of Team Mali, robotics is also about keeping their people safe and away from harm, either by effectively improving health technology or creating drones that can be sent into conflict zones in place of soldiers with families in order to save lives. Many members of Team Mali view the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge as their first step towards fulfilling their dreams of becoming accomplished inventors and scientists who will specialize in finding long-term solutions to problems that upset the region’s economic and social stability.
And while many consider this worldwide competition to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for other participants like Team Tunisia, it represents an opportunity to prove to the world that their nation harbors brilliant minds that will someday bring about positive changes in the world. For this team, winning the Challenge does not necessarily mean winning a trophy or being called number one, but rather meeting people from all over the world so they can share their ideas, culture, and points of view to achieve stronger and better solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. They recognize that this exchange is not limited to this event alone, and hope that they will be able to continue communicating with the other teams they meet for years to come in an effort to create a unified, global STEM community.
Although Africa has seen sustained economic growth in recent years largely due to its plethora of natural resources, Africa as a whole can realize a rise in its standards of living, life span, and overall economic grow through the pursuit and development of technology and innovation. By stressing the importance of developing STEM skills and convincing governments and non-government organizations alike to focus their efforts on investing in their youth, future generations can help Africa become one of the most technologically developed regions in the world.
Source: First Global Challenge