On 26 November  2023, Minister of Education, Hon. Gaspard Twagirayezu officially launched the First Lego League Competition (FLL) organized by Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) in partnership with Coderina and STEM Inspires with the aim of inspiring and engage the young minds in the field of science, technology, engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

In his welcoming remarks, Director General of Rwanda Basic Education Board, Dr. MBARUSHIMANA Nelson said that in the first edition of the First Lego League Championship 2022 there were 35 teams in schools and now there are  100 schools participating in this competition.

“Now we have 1312 participants from different provinces. This has indicated the goal of the competition among schools in the coding and robotics landscape. We are so proud of this milestone and we hope that competitions will continue while having similar events that will produce great engineers, and Scientists whom we sick to have in nearest future.“ He added

“The First LEGO League (FLL) program is an internationally recognized initiative designed to inspire and engage young minds in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The First Lego League challenges students to explore real-world problems, research solutions, and build and program LEGO robots accomplish specific missions. The program fosters problem solving, teamwork, critical thinking, creativity, and a passion for STEM among participants.” DG REB Dr. Nelson continued.  

DG REB took his time to thank all participants including students from College du Christ Roi, Maranyundo Girls School, College Saint Andre, and New Generation Academy and Lycée de Kigali for representing their fellow students in this event as well as their demonstrations of coding and robotics where everyone feels happy after seeing wonders they do as the bright future engineers and scientists.

Dr. Nelson said that the competition will be organized in different centers. In western  province, the competition will take place in Nyamasheke and Rubavu districts; in Northern Province, it will take place in Musanze district; In eastern  province, the competition will convey in Kayonza district; while in southern province , it will be in Huye district and Gasabo district for City of Kigali.

 After the First Lego League regional competition, the five winning teams for each province and City of Kigali  will qualify to the national competition level which makes a total number of twenty five teams to compete at national level.  Winners at national level will participate in the First Lego League at international level. DG REB encouraged  the students to utilize the available opportunities and told them that the country will continue to put in place everything needed as much as possible for their great achievements. DG REB also said that the Coding and robotics will enter in Rwandan curriculum just in the next coming academic year.

Panelists suggested that the country should put much efforts such that they help Rwanda to  become a giant country like Singapore which is smaller like Rwanda  but has high skilled people in engineering and in many more in other sectors which contribute in  boosting  the economy of their country .

“This is the right time to teach our young ones and show them a way to pass through for their success and for Rwanda we want. To reach this, teamwork is the key to reach far, working hard and never give up spirit will help everyone to sustain and fight for future and Rwanda we want. The government should provide financial support and materials to different teams and schools since they are expensive.” Panelists mentioned .

The panelists encouraged schools to find enough time for coding robotics. They were thankful for DG REB’s remark where he said that coding and robotics will be introduced in Rwandan curriculum in order to have the bright engineers with the great skills.

Among the panelists, there were students who participated in the previous First Lego League Competition. These students reflected on that league, and shared how it has impacted their education & personal empowerment. They even shared on how they fill equipped for future challenges due to the First Lego League Competition.

In his closing remarks, Honorable Minister of Education, Twagirayezu Gaspard witnessed the power of youth.

“If we give the right platform, the right motivation to young people they can do miracles. We have seen different talents from different participants; but the most important is that what we are celebrating today is championed by the youth”. He said.

“This is not only the competition we are launching but is a shared vision where Science, Mathematics and Technology empower us to overcome challenges that we have in our societies. Technology, economic growth and other achievement we can list, it starts with young people by giving them the right motivation, the right platform to flourish and be able to do what are capable to do in order to reach their dreams.”  Hon. Gaspard said.

“When students were showing us what they can, I have seen that it is not neither Robots nor Science but I have seen the range of the lessons that they learn in their respective schools, working together, figuring out the problem and find out the solution as a team, be able to present the solution and tell how to overcome the problem. The only better way to raise our young people is to teach them lessons as they are prepared but also tune and encourage them to use technology not only as a lesson but also as a tool that can help them to solve problems among the societies.” He added.

“It is our homework , we educators to start thinking about of our education, are we teaching our young people in the right way? Are we training our teachers? Do we have the right equipment in our schools? are we assessing the right things? These are the questions that we need to be seeking answers for, and it has also challenged us as we educators who are here and we need to work hard to find solutions as well. We need to listen to our young people and think about how to support them and give them the right platform.” Hon. Gaspard said.

“There is a need to prepare the future technology professionals and experts. What we are seeing here, is the shared vision for the future where Science and Mathematics can empower us to overcome challenges of the society. Coding should be the cross cutting &foundational skills for everyone so that our kids can be competitive in future, we can only do that from basic level of education. We are also committed that this program will be strengthened in our schools. As you have seen it, it is not only about robotics, it is not only about coding or Science, it is all about whole range of lessons that our students learned while doing their projects. This is how we want to teach our kids. If you look at how the world is advancing and the way in which technology is changing, it gives us a homework as I mentioned before (we educators) to think about the future education of our children. “ He underlined

This First Lego League will help students to promote STEM education and awareness among students, to enhance problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills, to provide opportunities for students to engage with real-world challenges and fosters a passion for innovation and creativity,

First Lego League Challenge Robotics competition from age 9-16 provides a fun and engaging platform for young people aged 9 to 16 to develop STEM skills through the use of LEGO robots. It will emphasizes the importance of teamwork, communication and critical thinking by encouraging participants to work together to design, build, and program their robots and it will help to prepare students for the future, both academically and professionally, by giving them the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly-changing world.

The partners who joined efforts for the First Lego League to happen are such as Ministry of Education, Rwanda Basic Education Board, First, The Lego Foundation, Coderina, GIZ, STEM Inspires and Right to Play.