Africa Code Week lights spark of digital literacy in North Africa

Despite Covid-disruption, SAP Africa Code Week hosts Train-the-Trainer sessions in Libya, Mauritania with educators showing strong interest in digital literacy
Collaboration with Ministries of Education aimed at building sustainable skills development capacity

Digital literacy amidst conflict and pandemic

Two countries in the north of Africa affected by recent or ongoing conflict may be turning the corner on digital skills development for youth and teachers in 2021. Despite the challenges with internet access, lack of access to technology and ongoing conflict, interest in digital skills is high among learners and teachers alike in both Libya and Mauritania.

Dorsaf Benna Chelly, SAP Africa Code Week coordinator in North Africa, is upbeat about the interest shown by educators – including the Ministries of Education – in both countries.

“2020 was the first year that hosted Train-the-Trainer sessions in Libya and Mauritania and continues to grow in attendance and popularity. The goal is to equip teachers with skills and knowledge to support digital learning in the country, and to inspire a new generation of young Africans to build a better future using technology as an enabler. The response from educators in Libya and Mauritania shows healthy interest in digital literacy and skills development and point to a shift in how both countries are preparing their youth for the 21st century digital economy.”
 
 

Building blocks of a brighter future for Libya’s youth

Did you know?

  • Libya is in a state of civil war as rival factions seek control of the government. The World Food Programme estimates that 435 000 people have been displaced by the conflict.
  • When the pandemic emerged in early 2020, it prompted school closures across Libya, leaving 1.3 million learners suddenly out of school. The Libyan government worked with local television stations to broadcast compulsory lessons for middle and secondary school children. 
  • The Libyan Ministry of Education also partnered with UNICEF to support digital teaching platforms, provide technical supplies such as tablets and computers, and improve internet connectivity. 
  • According to World Bank data, only 22% of the population in Libya had access to the internet in 2017. 

Dr Muna Naas, Africa Code Week coordinator for Libya and member of the Libyan Ministry of Education, says:

“Work is underway by the Libyan government to meet the long-term education requirements for youth and ensure every learning is equipped to take part in the global digital economy. As the main conduits of learning, teachers play an invaluable role in preparing our youth for a bright future. This makes the positive response from local educators to our first-ever Train-the-Trainer workshops all the more encouraging.”

Last year a total of five Train-the-Trainer sessions were held in the country in September and October, with 67 teachers taking place. Twelve of the teachers were female. In 2021 this figure is set to increase during the months of October to December.

“For many of the teachers, this was their first contact with coding,” says Benna Chelly. "We have also mobilised support among teachers for the AfriCAN Code Challenge, a relatively new initiative at this year’s Africa Code Week that seeks youth aged 8 to 16 to foster a wide range of essential skills, from coding to problem-solving and teamwork, and compete in a competition to help unleash their super powers through coding creativity.”

Scaling teaching impact in Mauritania

Despite constant government investment in the education sector, Mauritania has not yet achieved universal primary school enrolment. According to the World Bank, the country’s learning outcomes remain low, partly due to teachers’ limited qualifications and skills. 

In addition, only one in five people in Mauritania have access to the internet according to 2017 data. This adds further complications to the provision of digital learning in the country. 

According to Cheikh Konaté, Member of the National Assembly of Education in Mauritania, improving the quality of education is critical to the country’s economic growth and human capital development efforts. “As the gatekeepers on knowledge and learning, teachers are invaluable in helping us prepare our youth for the future. With the support of our public and private sector partners, hundreds of teachers participated in the first-ever Train-the-Trainer workshops in our country, and gained first-hand experience with new digital learning and teaching schools.”

Benna Chelly points to the ongoing interest in ACW Train-the-Trainer sessions among educators in Mauritania.

“Across six sessions held virtually in September last year, a total of 214 teachers participated, gaining first-hand knowledge of basic coding and digital literacy skills which they can take back to their classrooms to empower local youth."

More than 39 000 teachers in 37 countries were mobilised during the 2019 Africa Code Week. This year, with an all-virtual format due to the impact of the pandemic, Africa Code Week is taking place across all African countries, with a month-long series of virtual coding sessions taking place across the continent during October to December.

Hicham Iraqi Houssaini, Managing Director of SAP Francophone Africa concludes:

“While the pandemic has upended the lives of learners and teachers across the continent and disrupted schooling, it has also created opportunities. The growing urgency to provide learning through digital channels is driving greater interest in digital skills among learners and teachers alike. Teaching young kids to code is a gift that will endure for decades to come. If we harness our most precious resource – our abundance of youthful talent – Africa will go from strength to strength in 2021 and beyond.”

For more information about Africa Code Week, please visit www.africacodeweek.org

 

 

About Africa Code Week

Since 2015, SAP Africa Code Week (ACW) has been creating free opportunities for young Africans to learn coding skills and for teachers to be trained on digital learning curricula. Strong partnerships with the public, private and civil society sectors across 54 countries are driving sustainable impact by building teaching capacity and supporting the adoption of coding into national curricula in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5 and 17. Join SAP and partners by visiting www.africacodeweek.org to find out more.

About SAP

SAP’s strategy is to help every business run as an intelligent enterprise. As a market leader in enterprise application software, we help companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP® system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. We simplify technology for companies so they can consume our software the way they want – without disruption. Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enables business and public customers across 25 industries globally to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

AfriCAN Code Challenge: DreamOval Foundation Honours Deserving Pupils

The DreamOval Foundation in partnership with SAP, UNESCO YouthMobile, and Irish Aid, organized an inspiring award ceremony last week for Ghanaian students who have played an active part in this year’s Africa Code Week (ACW) AfriCAN Code Challenge competition.

The event was a joyful ceremony involving school authorities, Metropolitan assembly officials, chiefs, and parents from the winning school to showcase the hard work and efforts of local youth in line with the Government's agenda towards improving 21st century learning. Prizes included laptops, tablets, mobile handsets, and book vouchers and were handed to country winners from Nii Boye Town SDA Basic School, Martyrs of Uganda and Accra, and Sweet Code. 

Ghanean students rise above Covid challenges

Speaking about the awards ceremony, Francis Ahene-Affoh from DreamOval adds, “Despite the global pandemic and today’s disruptions to learning, Ghana received both innovative and creative competition entries. We selected the best three to represent our country for the continental challenge and look forward to seeing our local talent showcased with Africa’s top students.” 

The AfriCAN Code Challenge is an exciting pan-African competition that invites youth aged 8-16 years to program a Scratch game aligned to the 'Change the world with your Superpowers' theme. Participants are invited to compete individually or in teams of up to five people to test students’ ability to write basic code using the scratch language and to show their level of competence in a 2min video which is reviewed by a panel of judges. 

Speaking at the event, Chief of Nii Boye Town, Nii Ayi Mensah 1, acknowledged the students and their hard work and the importance of key influencers and local ambassadors in fostering digital education in the community. He also highlighted the importance of digital learning and education while referencing the students from SDA who were shining examples with their winning creations in the AfriCAN Code Challenge. 

Francis from DreamOval echoed Nii Ayi Mensah 1’s words at the event by celebrating the students’ tenacity and dedication, but also encouraged them to take digital learning and coding seriously as a ‘transformative journey’ that will change their lives and make them competitive in the global economy. 

 

AfriCAN Code Challenge 2021 Ghana Africa Code Week

 

Ghana helps conquer Africa’s digital divide  

During 2021 alone, more than 621 teachers have been trained in Ghana during Africa Code Week’s Train-the-Trainer (TTT) sessions during the month of August thanks to the implementing partner, DreamOval Foundation. 

Due to COVID-19 and to support health and safety regulations, the training was scheduled online and created an opportunity for teachers to register from all corners of the country. “Ghana has recorded impressive results over the years during the TTT sessions, and this year was no exception,” concludes Francis Ahene-Affoh. 

To find out more information about Ghana’s continued support in Africa Code Week or to get involved, contact the DreamOval Foundation or send an email to Francis. 

 

AfriCAN Code Challenge: Congratulations to the 22 Finalists! / Félicitations au 22 finalistes!

Launched by SAP Africa Code Week for the first time this year, the AfriCAN Code Challenge is a pan-African coding competition where youth aged 8 to 16 were tasked with coding a game using the Scratch programming language to answer the question: “How will your tech change the future of education?” Youth were able to enter alone or in teams of up to five people, tapping into a wide range of essential skills from problem-solving and coding all the way to teamwork and communications. Each entry had to include a two-minute YouTube video showing how the game works and why it should win.

 

Bezalel Magede representing Rwanda
Bezalel Magede to represent Rwanda in the pan-African finals

 

In total, 40 countries participated, with over 100 project videos submitted. The top three entries from 36 countries made it into the continental final, with 22 projects making it to the final judging stage! According to Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility and Co-founder of Africa Code Week at SAP, “African youth are highly creative and community-oriented, and have a key role to play in building a safer and better future for the continent. By encouraging learners to innovate at an early age, we hope to inspire them to become change-makers and help find solutions to challenges in their communities, nations and beyond.”

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Lancé par SAP Africa Code Week pour la première fois cette année, l'AfriCAN Code Challenge est un concours de codage pour les jeunes de 8 à 16 ans. Leur mission : programmer un jeu en utilisant le langage de programmation Scratch sur le thème : "Comment ta technologie va-t-elle changer l'avenir de l'éducation ?" Les jeunes pouvaient participer seuls ou en équipes de cinq personnes maximum, en faisant appel à un large éventail de compétences essentielles - de la résolution de problèmes à la programmation en passant par le travail d'équipe et la communication. Chaque participation devait inclure une vidéo YouTube de deux minutes montrant le fonctionnement du jeu.

 

Les gagnants au Cameroun 
Les gagnants du Cameroun

 

Au total, 40 pays ont participé, et plus de 100 vidéos de projets ont été soumises. Les trois meilleurs projets de 36 pays ont été retenus pour la finale continentale: sur ces 36 projets, 22 projets ont été retenus pour la dernière phase! Selon Claire Gillissen-Duval, Directrice de la Responsabilité sociétale d'entreprise EMEA et co-fondatrice d'Africa Code Week chez SAP, "Parce qu'ils sont extrêmement créatifs et soucieux des besoins de leur communauté , les jeunes Africains ont un rôle majeur à jouer dans la construction d'un avenir meilleur et plus sûr pour le continent. En encourageant les élèves à innover dès leur plus jeune âge, nous espérons les encourager à devenir de véritables acteurs du changement pour trouver des solutions aux grands défis locaux, régionaux, nationaux et au-delà."

 

Here are the 22 projects that made it through to the final round / Voici les 22 projets finalistes:

  1. Algérie: The Best School
  2. Botswana: OK Zoomer
  3. Cabo Verde: Caça Tecnofasma
  4. Cameroun : Grazerty
  5. Côte d’Ivoire: Easy Preterit
  6. Djibouti : Groupe Etoile
  7. Ethiopia: Mathstainement
  8. Ghana : Body Quizz by Nathaniel Aloriwe
  9. Kenya: Augustin Agaba’s project
  10. Malawi: Love Math
  11. Maroc: Hashas Abdelilah
  12. Mauritius: Mr. E-Bin
  13. Niger: Brain Test
  14. Nigeria: I-Learn
  15. République du Congo : Une fille et son chien
  16. Rwanda: Math Puzzles for Kids
  17. São Tomé & Principe: Africa Jungle Quizz
  18. Sénégal: Bat School
  19. South Africa: Space Quest
  20. Tanzania: Animal Name Game
  21. Tunisie: Warrior – Ahmed Antit
  22. Zimbabwe: Headstart Game

 

Awards Ceremony in Sao Tome and Principe
Awards Ceremony in São Tomé and Príncipe

IF I CAN CODE, EVERYBODY CAN!

Seeing a smile on children’s face as they discover something new and exciting is simply priceless, and the satisfaction brought by the sparkle in their eyes is enormous and truly rewarding. Following Einstein’s conviction that “the only source of knowledge is experience”, we set ourselves on a journey to equip young people in Africa with a set of skills that are essential in all walks of life, in a fun and creative way. We introduce them to logical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking, storytelling, team work and communications. How are we doing it? By teaching them the basics of computer coding. I cannot go on without admitting how, as political scientist, I was giggling along with kids as I wrote my first lines of code.

Learning how to code – like poetry, history or maths – opens up young (and not so young ;-) minds to new ways of thinking and creating. Because coding skills enable them to master the technology, suddenly they are more than mere users of technological solutions: they become creators of innovation. At the beginning of each coding workshop, when asked who is more intelligent, humans or computers, many children answer ‘computers’. While taking their first steps in robotics, children then realize that telling the robot to ‘go to the end of the room’ is not enough for the robot to understand and obey. However, when they say ‘robot, stand up’, ‘robot, move 10 steps’, ‘robot turn by 180 degrees’, their joy builds up as they see the robot listening. When they write down their first commands in the Scratch interactive online tool, it suddenly dawns on them that they are now in charge of the machine and they can instruct it to do exactly what they want. They learn to give clear commands, to carefully plan each step so as to achieve a desired result. It’s just like project management or writing a movie script, so the skills we learn through coding may actually be used in a wide array of contexts.

Building on the success of the EU Code Week set up by the European Commission across 38 European countries last year, these coding workshops are part of the Africa Code Week initiative launched by SAP, Simplon.co, Ampion, the Galway Education Centre, the Cape Town Science Centre and the King Baudouin Foundation. In October 2015, this continent-wide initiative will bring hundreds of coding activities to 20,000 kids and youth from 3 different age groups (8-11, 12-17 and 18-24) across 18 countries.

The goal is to equip future generations with the coding skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and become key actors of Africa’s economic development. With the role technology plays in our daily lives and across economies and industries, it is clear that coding skills will be the key to successful careers in the future, whether today’s children become tomorrow’s leading entrepreneurs or join the digitally skilled workforce companies need more and more, everywhere.

By fostering interest in creative computing through hands-on, interactive and fun learning, the EU and Africa Code Week initiatives are powerful ways to spread digital literacy across continents and start shaping tomorrow’s highly skilled workforce: tech savvy men and women eager to drive social and economic development in a digital world that changes at the speed of light.

Education is the most fertile soil for personal development and future economic growth, the same way proper food helps our body grow and stay healthy. As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is also the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’, which ultimately translates into increased income, reduced poverty and a more peaceful society.

And by the way, if a political scientist could learn and master coding basics so quickly, then trust me, everybody can!  

 

Bienvenue sur le Blog de l’Africa Code Week !

Ici commence une grande aventure...
L'aventure Africa Code Week ne fait que commencer et ce blog a pour merveilleuse mission d'en dévoiler un chapitre à la fois. Vous pourrez y savourer, à votre rythme, les témoignages de nos partenaires, les nouvelles des différents pays, sans jamais perdre de vue le plus important, à savoir le sourire des enfants. Notre plume n'a qu'une hâte: celle de vous faire partager ces milliers d'étincelles qui brillent dans les yeux de ceux qui découvrent un univers, s'approprient un langage et voient l'horizon s'élargir grâce à de nouvelles portes grandes ouvertes sur leur avenir. 
Restez connectés et suivez-nous sur Twitter @africacodeweek et http://www.facebook.com/africacodeweek !

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