By Emma Okonji

Nigeria’s private information and communications technology training institute, New Horizons, is organising the first annual Under 17 national ICT competition from February to March 2016 to boost ICT curriculum and skills empowerment in primary and secondary schools.

General Manager, Education Services for the company, Mr. Bolaji Olaoye, said the programme, which is part of New Horizons corporate social responsibility, would serve as a catalyst to bridge the knowledge gap between Nigerian youths and their counterparts in other technology driven countries of the world.

He said the competition, which would involve participants from over 200 Nigerian schools, would have two separate segments in primary and secondary schools levels and serve as an avenue to breed the technology whiz-kids of our time and upcoming generation who will form the nucleus of young industry captains that will transform the economy of Nigeria and Africa in the shortest possible time.

Olaoye affirmed that competition is a firm conviction that Nigeria can also be positioned as global ICT leading country and world champion the same way Nigeria had established itself as a consistent world champion in the Under-17 World football tournaments over the years.

He said: “The mission is to catch our youths at tender school ages for high quality ICT Skills-oriented Programs that will foster the rapid growth and development of their technology skills-set and consequently place them at the frontal row of global champions.”

He explained that necessary sensitisation of schools for participation had started and that the initiative was approved by primary and technical stakeholders in the education and technology world some of which are, Lagos State Government Education and Science ministries, Comptia, Certiport, among others.

He informed that the programme would run from February 2016 with the grand finale holding in March 2016. The prizes are: Star prize of a brand new school bus, multiple all-expenses sponsored trips to Dubai ICT City, multiple laptop computers, many tablets and other consolation prizes.

Some of the skills to be promoted in the competition, according to him, include software and programming coding skills, hardware and basic computer appreciation skills. The Competition will also stimulate a wider exploit and firmer grip of top range ICT skills within the national Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) curriculum and other international ICT skills requirements like Cambridge, IGSCE, among others.

New Horizons is the world’s largest, IT and e-business training organisation with 360 centres in 80 countries of the world. The Nigerian branch of New Horizons pioneered integration of international IT/E-business certification based training into academic curricula of primary schools, secondary schools and universities in Nigeria.