Africa’s biggest digital skillsinitiative is now underway. SAP Africa Code Week (ACW) officially launched its sixth editionon Monday October 5th with an all-new virtual format and a host of exciting new developments.
Speaking at a virtual event to mark World Teacher’s Day and launch this year’s SAP AfricaCode Week, UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu said this year’s ACW takes placein the unprecedented context of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As distance learning became thenorm for most students, this shift has taught us that digital skills are essential. And yet fewerthan 30% of people worldwide master basic ICT skills, and only 3% of adults inmiddle-income countries have coding skills.”
Women also continue to be excluded, continued Mr Xing Qu, as “women and girls are 25percent less likely than men to know how to use digital technology for basic purposes,according to UNESCO’s flagship publicationI’d Blush if I Could. We all know digital skills areno longer an option – they are a necessity. While COVID-19 is creating challenges, it is alsooffering opportunities. Due to the pandemic, this year’s ACW is taking place entirely onlineand, as a result, is covering all 54 countries on the African continent.”
Virtual Training and a Challenge to Hone Skills and Drive Change
Launched September 1st in partnership with SAP, UNESCO YouthMobile and Irish Aid, the AfriCANCode Challenge is a coding competition for students aged 8 to 16 currently taking place across the continent. Invited to compete individually or in teams, young participants(a.k.a. ‘Courageous Coders’) are on a mission to imagine the future of education with aScratch game and 2-minute video explaining why their code should win. Fostering a widerange of essential skills from problem-solving and coding all the way to teamwork and
communications, the challenge will see the top 3 winners from each participating countrycompete at the pan-African level. Final results will be announced later this year.
A 2016 study found that nearly 69 million new teachers are needed by 2030: they areindispensable in the fight for quality education for all and the fulfillment of the UNSustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on ensuring inclusive and equitable qualityeducation and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, as well as SDG 5 onachieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. But the COVID-19
pandemic has severely disrupted schooling across the continent, with an estimated 250million primary and secondary school children in Africa not attending school and a prevailingshortage of teachers hampering efforts at providing every child with primary and secondaryschool education.
In response to this, ACW partners have refocused efforts towards virtual capacity building.The ACW TeacherTraining season kicked off on September 21, with hundreds of virtualtraining sessions taking place all over the continent thanks to the hard work of public, privateand nonprofit partners supporting the initiative in every participating country.
Virtual Learning to Support Capacity Building
Two-thirds of Africa’s population is expected to make use of a smartphone by 2025, and84% of the population – more than one billion people – will access a SIM connection by thesame year.On a mission to facilitate learning and teaching beyond classroom walls, the new ACW App
is the other major development brought by this 6th edition and being launched today. Available in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic, it allows students and teachers toaccess dedicated resources anytime, anywhere from their Android device.
“Over the past five years, Africa Code Week has grown into a trusted repository of free andopen-source resources that support both students and their teachers on their digitalempowerment journey,” said Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate SocialResponsibility and Co-founder of Africa Code Week at SAP. “With the growing access tomobile technology across the continent and the increasing prevalence of online learning, webelieve the time is now to facilitate access to quality educational content with a mobile app,”said Gillissen-Duval.
According to Albert Nsengiyumva, Executive Secretary of the Association for theDevelopment of Education in Africa (ADEA) and official ACW Patron there is need for aconsolidated effort from the public and private sectors as well as civil society to close thedigital gender gap. “We need to jointly provide affordable access to digital tools and removebarriers to women and girls’ full participation in the digital economy. We are seeing greatinnovation in the use of technology driven by women. We have made a good start, but we
now need a consolidated effort to ensure this progress can continue and sustain over time.”
In 2019, ACW empowered 3.85 million youth with basic coding skills, with femaleparticipation standing at 47%. In addition, more than 39,000 teachers were mobilized acrossthe continent.
Cathy Smith, Managing Director at SAP Africa, said: “Teaching young kids to code is a giftthat will endure for decades to come. It is critically important that we take advantage of ourmost precious resource, our youth. If we harness this resource by empowering it with digital skills, Africa will go from strength in 2020 and beyond.”
For more information about Africa Code Week, please visit www.africacodeweek.org or to
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