Stakeholders in the technology sector stressed the need for the government at all levels to establish an Artificial Intelligence policy in education that will promote innovation and digital skills development among students.
They made this disclosure at the recent Technology Enhanced Learning/Computing Education Forum organised by the Nigeria Computer Society in Lagos.
An Associate Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Kano State University of Science and Technology, Dr Salisu Abdulrahman, said policy on AI would support the establishment of AI infrastructure in tertiary institutions across the country and also facilitate AI development in Nigeria.
Abdulrahman underscored the importance of collaboration between AI stakeholders and academia to drive innovation and contribute to national growth.
He emphasised the necessity for Nigeria to establish an AI database that could support research and innovation initiatives.
Defining AI as the machine’s ability to emulate human thinking and exhibit intelligence, Abdulrahman highlighted the global investments, totaling billions of dollars, directed towards advancing AI development to unlock global value.
“So many platforms have integrated AI into their operations, and different sectors of the global economy have embraced AI, including the education sector. AI can be used in automated processes and the development of robots.
“Although AI is in its infancy stage in Nigeria, most ministries and government agencies, including private organisations are beginning to introduce AI in their operations.
“The Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy as well as the National Information Technology Development Agency has developed policies and strategies to develop AI in Nigeria,” Abdulrahman said.
He further explained that the application of AI could stimulate economic growth by simulating games from both the supply and demand sides.
He added that the Federal Government was committing funds to startups to develop AI in Nigeria.
Abdulrahman remarked that Nigeria needed technical skills development in machine language, big data, robotics, and deep learning, as well as data science skills for the understanding of data processing and data analytics for decision-making.
He said Nigerians must acquire skills in the area of generative AI and responsible AI, adding that Nigerians would need the knowledge of AI in critical thinking and decision-making.
He insisted that apart from the technical skills, Nigerians must also acquire soft skills in AI.
“However, the biggest challenge to AI development in Nigeria is lack of funding. Organisations and government agencies must, therefore, invest heavily in AI in order to enhance research and development in the country’s educational system,” Abdulrahman added.
A Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Applications, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Prof. AbejideAde-Ibijola, said AI in education would support learning and innovation in the area of intelligent thinking, automated grading, data analytics, predictive analysis and content generation, using algorithms.
He, however, said AI could come with its disadvantages such as funding, insecurity and training, describing them as timeless challenges.
The President of NCS, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, stated that the forum was specifically crafted to unite stakeholders and delve into the influence of Artificial Intelligence in education.
“The primary focus is on how the education sector can harness AI to foster innovation and propel advanced research, ultimately benefiting Nigeria as a nation,” Aliyu said.
He highlighted that this year’s conference theme revolves around emerging technologies, particularly AI, to promote innovation and excellence within the academic community.