Young Scientists Build Talk Gadgets
young boys from Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Surulere, invented a
communication gadget to emerge the National JETS champions. MUSBAU RASAK
reports on why students from the school have consistently been in the
forefront of scientific and technological revolution among others for
the past three years Sitting in a spacious office in the not too
expansive compound, Alhaji M.R.S.
Imam, the Principal of Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Randle Avenue,
Surulere, always flashes toothpaste smile and would usually invite
visitors to his office politely. He is always ready to attend to
visitors' needs and complaints.
But this Tuesday was a little bit different. Alhaji Imam was extremely
happy, hence, the smile was broader and the invitation to come in to his
office was more than usual. It was not only Alhaji Imam that was happy.
The entire school population was singing songs of happiness and the joy
radiating the whole compound was infectious.
The joy spreading through the entire length and breadth of the school
was so infectious that one wondered whether the school had just hit a
million dollar jackpot. The answer of course was no. That day, the
school was celebrating excellence. To be precise, two young men in the
school have brought a national honour to the school by winning the 11th
National Junior Engineers and Technicians Students (JETS) competition
which took place in Jos, the Plateau State capital. It was really a
moment of joy. Masters Otaiku Oluwaseun and Obikwelu Felix-Val were the
whiz-kids who went through thick and thin to bring national honour to
It was indeed rigorous for the students who are both in SS2, since they
both had to start from the scratch at the local Surulere Local Education
District (LED) where they beat other schools to clinch the first prize.
"Through that feat, we won the right to represent Surulere LED at
the Lagos State JETS competition," Gilbert Okpalakune, the JETS co-ordinator
for Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School told Metrolink.
The Lagos State competition which took place at Baptist Academy in
Obanikoro was of course tougher than the Surulere LED competition.
"Of course, the competition was tougher since about 366 public and
private secondary schools were participating. So initially, we were a
little bit afraid," 15-year old Oluwaseun told Metrolink.
But with prayer and confidence, the duo buoyed their confidence and went
about their job confidently. "With God and confidence in our
presentation, we knew we would win," 17-year old Obikwelu chipped
in. Indeed, they won the first place, claiming the right to represent
Lagos State at the national championship.
At the Jos championship, the opposition was reduced with each state and
Abuja, having one representative each. But of course, the competition
was stiffer and tougher. "This is because we are facing 36 other
schools which all emerged tops at their respective state. So, it was a
case of the tough getting going and the going getting tougher,"
Okpalakwe narrated to P.M.News.
But at the end of the day, both Otaiku and Obikwelu triumphed with their
presentation: a Gilfegi Transmitting and Receiving Device. It should be
noted that the duo came first in all categories: For project
presentation, they scored 61 out of 70 marks to clinch the first
position beating Imo State with 57 marks to the second position in the
category. For presentation, they scored 15.3 out of 20, beating Ondo
with 13.70 to the second place. For appearance, they scored 7.3 out of
10, beating Ondo again with 6 while overall, they scored 83.6 out of 100
to emerge national champions beating Imo and Ondo to the second and
third positions respectively.
Explaining the use of the transmitting device, the boys explained that
it is designed to receive and transmit messages, especially useful for
naval communications among villagers and peasant farmers.
The two whiz-kids explained that they were inspired into designing the
device due to the security problems in the society which they believed
are caused by communication gap. "Agreed, the GSM thing has bridged
the communication gap but the question is: how many can afford GSM?"
they queried. They believe that lack of communication has been
responsible for increase in violent crimes.
In the light of this, their teacher, Mr. Okpalakune, was quick to
solicit for assistance from government at all levels, well-meaning
individuals and corporate organisations for mass production of the
device. "They should help us and assist. These are students who
will go places in science and technology if the right assistance comes
in," he said.
The same call for assistance was re-echoed by the school principal,
Alhaji M.R.S. Imam who noted that it is really commendable that out of
the five schools that represented Lagos State at the JETS competition,
only his school clinched the first position in its category.
Alhaji Imam noted that though the Lagos State government assisted in
sponsoring the students to the Jos competition, he called for more
assistance from the state government. "We need to feel their
presence here. We need computer sets and for God's sake, this school and
some others in Surulere need to be upgraded to the status of model
colleges with facilities. It is only in Surulere that we don't have any
model or upgraded college," he noted.
The school principal, while expressing appreciation to the school's Old
Students Association for renovating the school's Physics laboratory to
the tune of N1.2 million, called for similar gesture to be extended to
the Agric, Biology and Chemistry laboratories.
Alhaji Imam stated further that the school has officially informed the
Lagos State government of its feat and that the school was waiting for
invitation to officially present the trophy to the state governor.
"I know it is the current situation in the state occasioned by the
bomb explosions and the Idi-Araba ethnic clashes that may have been
delaying our formal invitation from the state government," he
The two whiz-kids have lofty ambition after leaving secondary school.
For Otaiku Oluwaseun, the 15-year old native of Odogbolu in Ogun State
wants to become either a computer scientist or a mathematician. "My
aim is to become the next Chike Obi, arguably Nigeria and Africa's
greatest Mathematician. If not this, I will want to become a great
computer scientist," the shy boy told Metrolink.
Obikwelu Felix-Val has a greater ambition. The 17-year old from Ora-Ukwu
in Anambra State wants to become a great inventor. "In fact, my
major ambition is to invent Nigeria's first rocket and launch it in
space," he enthused. The sky is their limit with young Mr.
Okapalakune, the Ugwu-born man from Aguata Local Government Area of
Anambra State as their teacher and co-ordinator. Okapalakune has been
the brain behind the school's sudden rise in scientific achievements in
the past three years.
It is noteworthy that this is not the first time Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar
School is winning laurels at local and national science competitions. In
the last months of the last millennium, the school won the National
Science Teachers' Association of Nigeria (STAN's) competition which took
place in Kaduna. At the 10th JETS competition which took place in Enugu
last year, the school represented Lagos State at the championship and
came second overall. They went better this year to clinch the first
It is not only in science that Ansar-Ud-Deen has been excelling, In
1999, the school produced the best agricultural science student who went
on to represent the country in an international competition. In the
field of sports, the school, for the past two years, have won the Magnum
Trust Bank-sponsored Lagos State Cricket competition among secondary
schools. They have also qualified for the final this year. Not only
that, the school also produced the only Nigerian selected for Africa's
under-19 cricket team in 17-year old Endurance. Endurance was also a
member of Lagos State team to the last National Sports Festival from
where he was picked to represent Nigeria at the West Africa
Quandrangular Cricket championship. He ended up being picked as a member
of the West African Cricket team to the African championship which took
place in Uganda.
A teacher in the school, Mr. Kola Akinlua, attributed the success of the
school especially in the science field to the fact that the students are
made to offer Introduction to Technology as a compulsory subject in
their junior secondary school days. "Uptil now, this is the
practice. So, the students are introduced to technology and science very
early and this helps them later," Mr. Akinlua who teaches
Introduction to Technology in the school, said. This was confirmed by
Alhaji Imam who added that the school authority has always incalculated
in the students the spirit of competitiveness. "With the spirit,
our students have the confidence to compete with any of their peers in
other school no matter the level of the competition," he said.
As Metrolink left the Randle Avenue compound of Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar
School that Tuesday, the celebration was still on and Otaiku Oluwaseun
and Obikwelu Felix-Val, the cynosure of eyes. Everybody agreed that they
indeed deserve all the accolades and encomiums. For they are the
Science Research Council: The Africa Program
The Africa Program works to promote social science and
humanities research on critical issues relevant to the African
continent, especially through the creation of linkages of African
researchers to international scholarly networks.
The Program, in coordination with its Regional
Advisory Panel, organizes research planning activities and
research capacity building initiatives with institutional partners in
Africa and elsewhere. Workshops, conferences, symposia and publications
are some of the main mechanisms through which the Program facilitates
knowledge production and dissemination.These activities are intended to
open up new research agendas that balance the strengths of global and
local perspectives. Two such current projects are African
Youth and Globalization and African
In these and other potential activities, the Africa Program
and Regional Advisory Panel are committed to collaborating with
Africa-based social science institutions with the goal of strengthening
the research capacity of the next generation of African scholars.
Recognizing the extremely difficult conditions under which most African
researchers labor, the Program works with organizations and universities
in the region in order to develop strategies to sustain African social
scientists and humanists who produce basic knowledge on topics of
central importance both to their societies and beyond. This includes
creating links to global scholarly networks, broadening the availability
of publications, widening audiences for the work of African scholars
and, potentially, developing field research opportunities on key themes.
Institutionally, the Program seeks to advance
both university-based and non-university-based research organizations
such as cross-regional research networks, and to encourage a greater
role for them in identifying research agendas related to the region. The
Program and its Regional Advisory Panel envision an important role in
this process for scholars committed to African research in North America
and elsewhere in the world, as well as researchers across all regions
and disciplines who see their work as enriched by engagement with
research in and on Africa.
The Program also has important links to other Council
activities bearing on Africa. These include the Working Group on Forced
Migration and Human Rights, whose case studies have
concentrated on western Africa, an intiative on Children and Armed Conflict, and the Program on Global
Security and Cooperation. The African Youth and Globalization
project, rooted in the Africa Program, has grown into a collaborative
research network on Youth
and Globalization that further incorporates transnational and
Research Networks and Institutions
Youth and Globalization
about the Program