Catching them young in Benin, Zimbabwe

Two African humanitarian drone franchises – Benin Flying Labs in West Africa and Zimbabwe Flying Labs in Southern Africa – have taken the challenge of introducing drone technology lessons to women and children in their respective countries, with the aim of boosting the future the drone industry, as well as encourage the youth to understand today how a career in drone and robotics can be rewarding.

In Benin, that country’s leg of WeRobotics’ flying labs has taken it upon itself to help with government with educating the girl child and raise the percentage of educated women in the country, which according to the lab has only 5.4 percent of women hold positions as employees, despite representing 52 percent of the population.

Recently, the lab held a training workshop for 75 children – 40 girls and 35 boys – which introduced them to drone technology and how it can change their lives.

“Between 2006 and 2013, some measures have been taken to provide free education for girls at lower secondary levels and motivate their stay at school and reduce dropout” Benin Flying Labs wrote in their recent report. “In sciences, statistics have shown that the number of girls who embrace this branch of studies is meagre compared to boys.

“In this context, the Benin Flying Lab, in partnership with the IGATE, the institute of Geography and Town Planning of Benin (L’Institut de géographie et d’aménagement du Territoire), has organised a youth stem training workshop, which will reinforce the projects implemented to improve the number of women in the scientific domain by empowering them with adequate tools. Male students also attended the event.”

Held at the University Campus of Abomey Calavi, the two-day course focussed on topics like imparting drone technology in the students; empowering female students through STEM training and encourage them to take up careers in ICT; developing data acquisition and analysis skills; and flying drones and learning their commercial applications.

Given how fun drones are to work with, we can all imagine how eager the lucky youth were to get acquainted with them.

“The students were eager to learn how these new technologies could drive their future innovations and solve their nation’s challenges with cutting-edge ICT. These engaging exchanges reveal how important the training was for them. They understood that using unmanned aerial vehicles can save time and give detailed and precise solutions to problems like disaster management, land mapping, flood, bush fires, and more.”

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, the age group was much, much younger for one of Zimbabwe Flying Labs’s first gigs as a flying lab network, but the enthusiasm was no less satisfying for the parties involved – the teachers and students.

“Our first event (as Zimbabwe Flying Labs) was to reach the next generation who will shape the future of the world as we know it,” the network said of its very first duty as a WeRobotics humanitarian franchise.

So they took in a batch of children between seven and ten years, and took them through some flying lessons. With the drone industry as young as it is in the country, the Zimbabwe Flying labs hopes that working to familiarise the kids with drones today will inspire them to take up robotics as a career.

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