In November 2022, Africa Code Week invited various government officials and education representatives from five African countries to gather in Morocco. The three-day conference was filled with discussions and constructive suggestions on how to possibly include digital literacy in Africa’s schooling system through the national curricula. Currently, nine African countries have officially adopted coding as a mandatory subject in public education.
Governments to get more involved in upskilling young citizens
Hosted by SAP Africa Code Week (ACW), in partnership with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the three-day event marked the start of a two-year transition period. This will see governments play an even greater role in fostering the adoption of coding in their countries’ schools by running the ACW program as part of their curricula.
“Over the past seven years, close to 12 million young people from 48 countries have been empowered with digital skills through their participation in ACW,” said Claire Gillissen-Duval, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA and MEE at SAP. “But the continent is still burdened by a massive digital skills gap, which according to the World Economic Forum, is diluting economic opportunities and development. One only needs to consider the 230 million jobs across the continent that will require some level of digital skills by 2030ii. Now is the time for us to invite African leaders to join us in equipping youth at a greater scale.”
To facilitate this, event attendees underwent intensive training sessions where they were provided guidance on the program, its required learning materials and envisaged rollout.
Plugging the digital skills gap is everyone’s problem
Dr. Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information from UNESCO said that partnerships between public, private and non-profit sectors are key for taking 21st century learning across Africa. “ACW has set a great example of fruitful partnerships as it demonstrates the power of partnerships to increase well-being and advance development that leaves no one behind. It is a true embodiment of SDG Goal 17, which is about Partnership for sustainable development”.
Countries leading the coding curriculum change charge
The event was held in Morocco where, for the past five years, ACW has consistently empowered the highest number of young people with digital skills. What’s more, since 2015, over six million Moroccan children have participated in the program.
Ilham Laaziz, Director of the GENIE program at the Moroccan Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, shared that over and above this, the Moroccan government has deployed several initiatives to integrate digital skills in schools. “We would like to ensure that when young people leave school, they are equipped with the skills to participate in the digital economy of tomorrow. Working together and learning from other African countries that are also striving to achieve this goal can only help the continent and its digital future." Laaziz added that “Beyond launching a generation of future coders, we seek to develop the algorithmic mindset that will enable them to acquire logical reasoning skills and solve problems."
The other countries which participated in the event included Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Senegal.
ACW to continue into 2024
Throughout 2023 and beyond, the program will be deployed to more countries via a mix of in-person and online events. Due to popular success, additional ACW programs such as the AfriCAN Code Challenge and the Women Empowerment Program will also forge ahead. The former is a pan-African coding competition where youth aged 8 – 16 are tasked with coding a game that can be used to change the future of education. The latter is a unique Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program that equips African female teachers and educators in Computer Science and STEM with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully teach, inspire, mentor and prepare girls for tomorrow's tech workplace.
“The continent’s future rests in the hands of its young people. All the components of society, both the public and private sectors, must now join efforts in providing them with the tools and space to innovate,” concludes Claire Gillissen-Duval.