African Governments and Ministries Unpack Africa’s Digital Literacy Agenda

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.  

6 ACW ambassadors selected for the Scratch Education Collaborative program

Africa Code Week is proud to announce that not one, but six ACW ambassadors and implementing partners have been selected to join an education and development program by the world’s largest free coding platform, Scratch. Siyafunda Community Technology Centre (South Africa), Girls in STEM Trust (Zimbabwe), MindSet Coders (Uganda), Creativity Lab (Rwanda), OIC Foundation (Nigeria), and Webfala Digital Skills for all Initiative (Nigeria) are part of the 91 other organisations from across the globe joining the 2022-2024 Scratch Education Collaborative program (SEC).

The program will include a series of collaborative learning experiences co-developed and co-facilitated by Scratch and partner organizations. Over a period of two years, the organisations will work to create a self-sustaining community of practice and establish models for equity-centred creative coding resources.

Bridging the skills gap in Africa

“Africa is burdened by a massive digital skills gap, which according to the World Economic Forum, is diluting economic opportunities and development. ACW and its partners cannot close this gap alone,” says Olajide Ademola Ajayi, Africa Code Week’s Global Coordinator. “Collaboration is key and seeing ACW ambassadors nominated to join such a big global program means we could accelerate closing Africa’s digital skills gap faster.”

Ahmed Ismail, Founder of Siyafunda Community Technology Centre, a South African non-profit organization and one of the ACW implementing partners, says being selected for this program means we can help shape the future of Scratch education in South African classrooms and across the continent. “We plan on incorporating this milestone by further advancing South African Basic Education by working with educators to improve the quality of the local curriculum.”

He adds, “We will also work to increase access to digital education for South African children, especially girls. We believe that education is the key to improving the lives of people in underserved locations, and we will do everything to help make it a reality for more people.”

Building on the ACW foundation

Since 2015, ACW has reached millions of African teachers and children and plans to partner closely with policymakers and governments to help transform Africa’s education agenda by including digital literacy in the national curricula.

Valentine Masicha, founder of MindSet Coders in Uganda and an ACW ambassador, says joining the SEC program means building on foundation blocks laid by ACW. “This will enhance the already existing knowledge from ACW and open our eyes to the opportunities available to build learning resources.”

She adds, “We would like to enhance creative computing for learners in and out of schools with a special focus on differently-abled children.

Digital skills for Africa and beyond

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, over 200 million jobs across the continent will require some level of digital skills by 2030. Beyond Africa, there are approximately 97 million new jobs could emerge from the introduction of machines and algorithms by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.

Victoria Nxumalo, the Executive Director of Girls In STEM Trust in Zimbabwe and one of the ACW ambassadors joining the SEC programs, will enable global opportunities. “Girls In STEM Trust is thrilled to be part of the SEC cohort 2 as it allows us to collaborate and network with like-minded organisations across the globe to learn best practices for advancing technology education in Zimbabwe and Africa. This will also allow us to work directly in the development of Scratch as a critical educational tool for both educators and learners.”

Nxumalo concludes, “It is 21st-century digital skills that ensure the youth are able to compete on an international scale for technology careers and opportunities and feed into the global talent pipeline.”

Scratch is one of the world’s largest free online learning platforms designed to empower children, young adults and teachers with coding skills. The program allows young people to create their own interactive stories, games, and animations. In 2021 alone, more than 200 million children interacted with Scratch. Click here to apply and stand a chance to be part of the SEC for the 2023 – 2025 Cohort. Deadline February 28, 2023!