Teaching Coding in Africa for Africa Code Week

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SEATTLE, Washington — Over the past few months, teachers have been preparing to teach coding in Africa as part of Africa Code Week. Africa Code Week is a digital skills initiative driven by the German company Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP). It teaches coding to young people in 37 different African countries. Since its conception in 2015, Africa Code Week has taught more than four million young Africans.

The Mission of Africa Code Week

This October marks the event’s fourth year, so Africa Code Week hopes to reach more students than ever before. In 2018, Africa Code Week trained more than 2.3 million people, including teachers, trainers and students. In 2019, Africa Code Week hopes to expand this impact, by reaching 3.8 million students and teachers.

Africa Code Week empowers young Africans to learn and develop digital skills for the growing tech market in Africa. The initiative recognizes coding as a new form of literacy, which becomes more and more essential every year. As leaders of Africa Code Week emphasize, this training will empower young Africans and help them to participate in the global economy.

With more jobs opening in the tech sector every day, digital training gives young Africans career options and flexibility moving forward. As Davide Storti, UNESCO Coordinator for Africa Code Week, put it, “in a fast-changing world driven by digital technology, it is important that every child becomes a creative actor of localized digital solutions, not its passive consumer.”

Though SAP spearheads Africa Code Week, it has become a multi-pronged effort. It is comprised of strong partnerships between UNESCO YouthMobile, 28 African governments, 130 implementing partners as well as 120 ambassadors around Africa. This collaboration allows Africa Code Week to reach increasingly high numbers of young people.

Teaching Coding in Africa

Train-the-Teacher sessions occur between June and September in every country wishing to host Africa Tech Week. Organized by SAP, non-profit partners or participating ministries, these sessions lead up to the events of Africa Code Week and train teachers in critical coding skills. Nearly 23,000 teachers were trained during the initiative in 2018. As teachers receive training, they become important supporters of digital education and coding in Africa. Africa Code Week hopes that as more teachers participate in these sessions, it will be easier to build sustained coding programs in schools.

These Train-the-Teacher sessions give crucial support to teachers and trainers to prepares them to serve as primary teachers during Africa Code Week. Training teachers also amplifies the impact of the Africa Code Week by producing local experts in coding. These experts continue to support coding in Africa long after Africa Code Week is over.

How it Works

Africa Code Week starts in October, coinciding with World Teachers’ Day and lasting through the month of October. Each of the 37 participating countries selects a week or two in which to host the event. During Africa Code Week, teachers offer free, short workshops on coding. These workshops are accessible for all students, even those who have no previous experience with coding. The workshops take advantage of open technology resources, such as Scratch, an education program from MIT, developed specifically for young learners.

Each workshop has a different focus, based on the age of the students. Younger participants, aged 8 to 17, focus on learning the basics of coding. Beyond the foundations and basics, the workshops encourage students to use their newly acquired skills almost immediately by writing code for animations, quizzes and games. Students ages 18 to 24 have access to more in-depth, specific workshops with focuses on HTML, CSS, HTML and JavaScript. Students learn about web technologies, architecture, and key coding languages.

Additionally, Africa Code Week offers online courses for students who are unable to attend workshops in person. The courses are short and easy to access. They make digital literacy even more accessible to students everywhere.

Preparing for the Digital Age

Africa Code Week provides critical training that empowers young students and trains them for future careers. While there is a great demand for workers in the IT sector, there is still a lack of technology training for young students in Africa. Initiatives like Africa Code Week help address this shortage of digital literacy while giving students confidence. As one young student put it, “when I code, I feel empowered, I can make things move. I can change the world.”

Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

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