Africa Code Week 2019: Impact & Challenges

Dependency on traditional school education is commonplace within the Nigerian society. People are encouraged to go to school, study a selected set of courses deemed worth the price, earn certificates and then get a job. This causes a struggle and congestion on one path to success, while a few take divergent paths or sometimes illegal ones. The sad reality is that not enough jobs exist for the overwhelming number of certified graduates. Many people fear to follow their dreams or try out new innovative ways because they fear failure.

Nigeria has been described as a cesspool of youths with untapped potential. A potential that is sometimes misplaced or killed. While oil may have been Nigeria’s greatest asset for decades, the well may run dry and some other source of sustainable growth and development is needed. The rising generation is its great asset. The technology scene in Nigeria has been on a steady rise and with more companies springing up and the aid of already established organizations, initiatives, and institutes more persons are being trained in a field of boundless opportunities. The Africa Code week is one of such initiatives.

The ACW has contributed immensely to the advancement of computer literacy and providing opportunities to young people. Myself being a testimony.

Prior to the 2019 ACW, coding has been a strange, incomprehensible aspect of computers to me. I saw coding as a complex string of ones and zeros. I felt it wasn’t something for me, a trained psychologist & literature enthusiast. But the ACW changed my mindset entirely. With a couple of lessons and practice, I realized coding was more fun and resourceful than I thought it to be. I got to learn about how much could be done with a string of codes and how the future, which is becoming more technological, is dependent on coding skills.

I could assist in teaching young minds at various schools as a volunteer, spreading the gospel about the amazing, fun, limitless opportunities there is in coding. It was interesting to see the interest of the students piqued once they understood what coding could be used for and what it could do for them. Using Scratch, they got the chance to witness and practice first hand, the things they could do using codes. They learned about the basis of their favorite apps, how computer programs work and were interested in improving on the already existing knowledge and also creating new innovative software. Many of them, boys and girls alike, started to see a future beyond the conventional career opportunities they had grown up looking forward to.

The training was however limited by the number of students who have access to computers after the training. In some schools, they had little or no interaction with computers during school hours and after the training session, some of the students had no computers at home to keep practicing and sharpen their newly acquired skills. In one of the schools, the training was completely oral and training was conducted using the CS unplugged curriculum due to insufficient computers.

The ACW has sparked up an interest in the minds of these young learners. A spark that would be nurtured with close follow up training and consistent programs. Also with more funding and other sustainable support, the experience would see much improvement and become more effective. Thanks to the ACW, the future is brighter for a whole generation of young, inquisitive, passionate and innovative minds that see beyond their status quo and trust in the opportunities that are made available through Digital literacy.

Bridging the gap in STEM development and education through digital literacy. Nonprofit Organization.

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