A GROUP of children aged between 4 and 14 over the weekend completed a ‘Holiday Robotics Week’ training in Kigali during which they had first-hand experience in robotics programming and coding.

The experience was exciting for the youngsters who were able to come up with innovative solutions to getting their robots to undertake the tasks they assigned them and offered a glimpse into what the real future of technology will look like.

Now, the advantages of exposing children to such technologies as robotics, programming and coding cannot be overemphasised, in a world in which STEM skills, critical thinking and creativity have never been so important.

As disruptive technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution increasingly take hold, it is vitally important that Rwandans take a pro-active approach toward new developments in the technology world to avoid being left behind.

And the best way to fully embrace this new world is to deliberately expose more young Rwandans, including young children, to emerging technologies early on to give them a much needed head start in a highly competitive world.

When children are allowed a chance to interact with cutting-edge technologies at an early age, they are not only likely to have a good attitude toward mathematics and science related courses, but will also learn the essential skills of patience and creativity, both of which are key to breakthrough innovation.

They will learn that it’s okay to fail at something and try it again and again before you achieve your objective, and that success comes to those who persevere.

In addition, coding and robotics programming will teach you to work together as a team and that your success can only strengthen your faith in each other.

Nevertheless, despite the obvious benefits of introducing children to these technologies, such opportunities remain few and far between leaving most youngsters unfamiliar with them.

Other than such initiatives as the aforementioned holiday programme, which benefit a handful of youngsters, there is no clear plan yet on how to integrate these important technologies into the classroom.

This needs urgent attention.

Yet, this task cannot be left to the government alone.

Schools, parents and other education stakeholders all have a critical stake in preparing young generations for the future of work accordingly and each needs to play a part in this effort. Things like robots can no longer be regarded as a luxury. They are a necessity for our children and education, a prerequisite for a bright future.

Maybe that’s one way we can try making our education system more relevant. And, it’s okay to start with the baby steps.