The ambitious plan to teach teens how to code in Nigeria.

Mustapha Rufai
6 min readAug 18, 2016
pushing teens to build the future.

Our aim is to inspire the next generation to get excited about computer science and digital making.

This has been the mantra of Code Club , a network of more than 13,600 volunteering members who help to organize the over 4,500 after school coding clubs existing worldwide. The mission of Code Club is to give every child in the world the chance to learn to code by providing project materials and a volunteering framework that supports the running of after-school coding clubs.

Code club’s way of life.

A team of 3 volunteers (mustapha rufai, Ibrahim Oladepo and HAFEEZ JIMOH)from Obafemi Awolowo University worked with students of Ambassadors College, Ile-Ife for 8 weeks to create a techie community for the younger generation. Our adventures lead to providing them with new tools and exploring skills they have never been exposed to. The students were introduced to basic web technologies and the Scratch graphical programming language.

A session in our class.

More emphasis was given to capturing the students’ interest and enthusiasm so that by the time the program ends, they would be eager to learn more.

Interesting Facts

A survey was conducted at the end of the program and here is an excerpt from it:

  • Our respondents (students who took the class) are aged 10 to 14.
  • We had more females who were interested in our classes. For every 4 females there was a male to complement. The classes were open, so students could opt in and out as desired. As the classes continued more males were opting out, and females getting engrossed.
  • 2go still has relevance in the underworld of secondary school communications in Nigeria. 60% of our respondents agree to currently use 2go for daily chats, same value for Facebook. Only 2 of our respondents have ever heard of NairaLand.
  • 1 in 2 of our respondents has either used WhatsApp or YouTube.
  • An overwhelming 75% say that they have access to computers with which they practice at home. This is an interesting fact to note because the myth is that kids in Nigeria do not have access to computer systems at home.
  • Secondary school students are heavy gamers if given the chance. Irrespective of gender; our respondents agree to play one or more of Assassin’s Creed, Asphalt8, NeedForSpeed, CandyCrush, FarCry at home.
  • 75% of respondents could use Corel Draw at advanced beginner level proficiency.
Boys enjoying themselves.

Projects

During the class, we focused on building simple websites and games. Since many of our students have never used the computer for much productivity other than Corel Draw and Microsoft Office, the curriculum was thus focused on simple short complete programs that are built around Scratch and basic Web technologies.

One of the students explaining what is being taught to her colleagues.
A session on forms’ creation in HTML5.
A session of shooter game on Scratch.
Ping pong game
Girls flowing with the class.
Introductory class in HTML5.

Lessons

Interacting with junior school students for 8 weeks and dealing with the school’s bureaucracy has taught us a couple of things;

  • Young students in Nigeria are willing and ready to engage with the rest of the world in building the next generation technology. They need continuous reminder, infrastructure, and engagement with students from other schools to brighten their spirit.

Females are as equally interested in building local technologies. They were crazy consumers of the technology we built in class. They continuously interacted with our games and websites, always fascinated by them. We didn't have to invest any extra effort in gearing them to love what we were doing.

  • Schools become skeptical when it comes to investing in teaching these technologies because of the extra capitals involved. They have to invest in Internet, capable computer systems that could run majority of the new programming interfaces and then personnel’s that would take those classes. Many schools would have rejected the idea of such programs immediately but our proposition seemed too good to be turned down. They preferred teaching Desktop Publishing and introduction to Information Technology.

Achievements

We had lots of high points during the class, some are highlighted below:

  • We had a consistent set of student’s attendance. Our classes were interesting enough that students continuously made it a note to show up and also bring friends along with them. They practiced at home, which made incremental work easy to build on.
  • We were able to build two games from the ground up with the Scratch programming interface without losing the students to the intricacies of the mathematics involved. It is important to note that our students were still in junior (or middle) school, so their mathematical exposures were still very limited.
  • We were able to build simple short responsive websites. Working with old browsers was tough but using our expertise and experience, we successfully built modern website with minimal functions.
  • We ensured that our aim of kindling the fire of builders and tinkerers in students was achieved since many of them were geared up to build and explore more things outside the class.
A Scratch session in class.

Challenges

We faced quite a lot of challenges in bringing the course together. Some of which are

  • Internet: The classes would have been more interesting but we had to make do with working through the classes’ offline and also had to use Scratch offline version.
  • Capability of available computers: We had to work with old desktop computers running Windows XP on 32bit processors that could barely handle the scratch programs with the heavy graphics.
  • Outdated browsers: The browsers we worked with were a bit outdated (like Mozilla Firefox version 5.0 in 2016!), so we had to stick with teaching older versions of HTML sometimes.
  • Not all who attended the class had access to computers at home to practice after sessions.

In conclusion, volunteering to teach secondary school students was both challenging and graceful. We embraced both the problems and caressed the positives of the program. These kids need more interaction with their peers from other schools. They deserve junior category competitions in robotics or games development.

More needs to be done.

And we plan to do more.

Our current plans are geared towards advancing the web technology class and teaching Python and Raspberry Pi.

We will enjoy collaboration from corporate and software education bodies meanwhile we can be reached on codeclubife@gmail.com or jimohafeezco@gmail.com

The community lives on.

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