Ambassador speech on Launch of Mo-Lab at Lycée Tokoin

Ambassador David Gilmour posing with education officials

Remarks for AMB
Launch of Mo-Lab
Lycée Tokoin, Lome
February 8, 2018

Excellence, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education
Monsieur, the Regional Director of Education for Lome
Monsieur the Director of Lycée Tokoin
Dear teachers
Dear students

Good afternoon.  It is a real pleasure to be here with you today. Today’s event is a celebration of the power of education. As the great Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

At the U.S. Embassy, we believe strongly in this philosophy.  We want to make sure that all Togolese youth, no matter where they live or how much money their parents earn, have access to a quality education.

But we know that for too many young people in Togo, educational resources are limited, especially in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, which we call STEAM. This is a serious problem, because the STEAM fields are essential for success in the 21st century economy. Science and technology lead to innovations, and innovations lead to economic growth, and economic growth creates a brighter future for all Togolese.

So, we need more Togolese scientists, and physicists, and coders and software developers.  But how can a young Togolese student in a rural part of the country be inspired to pursue a career in these fields when he has not ever touched a microscope, or used a computer? It’s not possible.

To overcome this obstacle, we decided to create a mobile learning center that will bring educational materials and activities to every corner of the country. We call it “Mo-Lab” for short. It is equipped with portable kits containing simple science, biology, chemistry, engineering, and robotics experiments.  It also has computer tablet workstations inside, which permit students to access the internet and do coding exercises, and a homemade 3-D printer. Best of all, Mo-Lab was designed and constructed by young Togolese inventors, and almost all the materials inside come from Togo.  Our hope is that wherever Mo-Lab goes, it will spark a passion for a future career in a STEAM field.

Today I am very pleased to be able to officially launch Mo-Lab alongside the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank the Minister for his support for this project, and the quality of the cooperation that we enjoy with the Ministry.

I am also proud today to announce another initiative of the U.S. Embassy to promote science and technology in education. It is a project called GLOBE. GLOBE is an international program that provides students around the world with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the environment. In partnership with the U.S. Space Agency, NASA, students on every continent collect data and measurements which are used to create a fuller picture of earth systems and help understand the effects of climate change. Today, I am pleased to announce that Togo has officially joined the ranks of countries participating in the GLOBE program.

I will conclude with a final thought. Technology today is more powerful than ever. The smart phone is my pocket is more sophisticated than all the computers that were used to send a man to the moon in 1968. At the same time, technology has become more democratic. Facebook, the world’s fifth-largest company, was created by a teenager coding on his laptop computer. The 3-D printer inside Mo-Lab was built from spare parts and it can literally create anything one imagines. In short, the opportunities are immense. I challenge you, the young Togolese generation, to seize them. As you do, know that the U.S. Embassy is here to accompany you.

Thanks.

Ambassador David Gilmour delivring his speech
Ambassador David Gilmour delivring his speech