FG Offers AI Researchers, Startups N5m Grant

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The Federal Ministry of Communications Innovation and Digital Economy is inviting researchers and startups working in AI to apply for up to a N5m grant.

The ministry has launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme to fund 45 consortia of startups and researchers to allow them explore further opportunities to deepen their work and build a sustainable AI ecosystem in Nigeria.

The initiative is aimed at fostering a vibrant and sustainable AI ecosystem in Nigeria by providing financial support, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration among individuals and organisations in the AI industry.

*The application opens on October 13, 2023, and ends November 15, 2023

*Applications must be submitted through the designated online channel provided below

*The proposals will be evaluated by a panel of AI experts

*Shortlisted applicants will be notified via email and invited for an interview

*Successful applicants will be notified via email

Eligibility

*Consortium that includes a start-up or technology company, Nigerian academic researcher or a foreign researcher

Must have a research proposal that aligns with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy’s AI priority areas

*The applicant must have a detailed proposal outlining the project and its potential impact on the Nigerian economy

*Must have a demonstrable track record of excellence in research or entrepreneurship

*Must be able to publish at least one peer-reviewed article within one year of receiving the grant

Selection Criteria

Grant applications will be reviewed by a panel of AI experts. The selection criteria will include:

*Novelty and originality of the research proposal

*Applicant’s track record of excellence in research or entrepreneurship

*Alignment of the research with the Ministry’s AI priority areas

*Feasibility of the project

Application closes on 15th November, 2023.

Interested candidates can click airg.nitda.gov.ng/# to apply.

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‘Enrol Your Children In Schools Or Go To Jail’ Bill Passed First Reading

The Senate has passed for first reading a bill that recommends a fine of N50,000 to parents who default in providing their children with primary and secondary school education.

The Red Chamber also recommended free meals for every child in the country.

The bill proposed by Senator Orji Kalu titled, ‘Compulsory free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, Section 2’ states that every government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.”

The act further states that “Every parent shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary school education and junior secondary school education by endeavouring to send the child to primary and junior secondary schools.”

“The Act further states that stakeholders in education in a local government area shall ensure that every parent or person who has the care and custody of a child performs the duty imposed on him under section 2(2) of this Act.”

The act further noted that a parent who contravenes the earlier prescription should be liable, on the first conviction, to be reprimanded.

“On a second conviction, a fine of N2,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both; and on subsequent conviction, to a fine of N5,000 or imprisonment for a term of two months or to both.”

The Senate, however, in its amendment, proposed N50,000 fines, instead of the N5,000 previously stated in the Act.

The amendment states, “Section (4) (b) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N2,000 and inserting N20,000. Section (4) (c) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N5,000 and inserting N50,000.”

It added, “Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N10,000 and inserting N100,000.”

It stated, “A person who receives or obtains any fee contrary to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N10,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or to both.

“Every parent shall ensure that his child receives full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude by regular attendance at schools.”

However, the Senate proposes, N100,000 in replacement of the N10,000.

The Senate proposed, “Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N10,000 and inserting N100,000.”

Responding to this development, the Programme Coordinator for Basic Education at Reform Education, Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, in an interview with Punch, noted that while the move by the lawmakers seems commendable, there should be an investigation into the additional charges by the public schools across the country.

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