2019 First Global Robotic Competition held in Dubai | 07 November 2019
Team Seychelles ranked 121 out of 189 countries
The ten Seychellois students who took part in the robotics competition in Dubai are back home after being placed 121st out of 189 countries.
Seychelles came second in the Indian Ocean region, with Comoros ranked first and Mauritius third. Team Seychelles also ranked 22nd out of 53 African countries and received a safety award. Seychelles came fifth in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.
“The Festival Arena (Dubai) was a tough competition with more contestants compared to previous years. The African continent has not performed well in general and the developed countries are taking a lead because they have more resources and they are exposed to more competitions. There is no continental competition for African countries. South Africa organised one last year but only three countries took part. Seychelles did not because of a lack of resources, but countries like the United States of America conduct state competitions followed by national competition thus they become well prepared. Nonetheless, the Seychelles team performance was good but they could have performed better if not for the challenges they faced during the preparations for the competition,” said Xavier Estico, chief executive of Nisti (National Institute for Science, Technology and Innovation).
Team Seychelles built their robot within 45 days. The main challenge faced by the team was the lack of space for practice as Nisti relocated from its Bel Ombre offices to the Providence (temporary admin office) following an urgent decision by the government to transform Nisti into a temporary school for students from Belonie secondary.
“The lack of practice impacted on the performance of our team and it is important that we have the demo to simulate the real feeling of practice. We expect that next year, we will have space that will allow our team to practice well in advance of the competition.
Although Nisti has not measured the response of students towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education following its introduction in schools’ extra-curriculum activated as well as students’ interest in forming part of Team Seychelles for First Global Robotics competition to see whether there is appreciation for STEM and motivation to choose STEM careers, Mr Estico said based on his perception, there is an increase in interest in STEM in schools.
This is reflected through Nisti’s first STEM programme at International School where 75 students enrolled and followed through to receive certificates. They also followed through with the head of the IT department at the school to find out the projects they can work on following the skills they had acquired.
Anse Royale secondary school is doing the same thing as well as Anse Boileau which recently held its science fairs. Beau Vallon school has also come up with fantastic projects based on renewable energy and more schools are leveraging the knowledge of STEM skills. But it will take time to realise what we want to see through our Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STI) which is to have a comprehensive STEM programme at the national level.
Already, Nisti is partnering with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development through the help of Unesco as the education ministry is already streamlining STEM education into school’s curriculum.
“We stepped in because we saw a decline in STEM education in Seychelles. Additionally, we (Seychelles) cannot be left behind in the fourth industrial revolution. The leveraging of technology in all the sectors is important. We are helping the next generation to be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution,” Mr Estico said.
Team Seychelles’ trip to Dubai was sponsored by Children’s Special Fund, Environment Trust Fund, Kenya Airways, Vijay Construction and H Savy Insurance.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of Team Seychelles’ trip to Dubai
Text by Christophe Zialor
Photo sources: Nisti