3 November 2015
International Computer Science Week takes place from 7 to 14 December in over 180 countries, and one of the activities planned for South Africa is the Hour of Code collaborative event.
It is presented by the non-profit organisation, Africa Teen Geeks, and the Department of Science and Technology, as well as Unisa and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan, Stellenbosch, Free State and Western Cape universities.
Hour of Code workshops will bring technology to over 20 000 children from disadvantaged areas, focusing specifically on teaching the basics of program coding. Coding is one of the fastest growing skillsets in the global information technology industry. The workshops will be held at the various universities, under the tutelage of computer science students and representatives from Africa Teen Geeks and the government department.
They will not only offer participants a chance to learn and develop new skills, they will also be a big step in the right direction towards developing an efficient, competitive and responsive economy around science and technology infrastructure. These far-reaching objectives are in line with the National Development Plan Vision 2030, which aims to develop a skilled and capable workforce in all areas of industry to support an inclusive growth path for South Africa and its people. Hour of Code is a chance to develop a unique South African technology identity that can ably compete with the rest of the world.
Africa Teen Geeks is an African non-profit organisation that provides computer science training in schools and in underserved communities. In February, the organisation was one of the recipients of the Google Rise Awards; it received a grant towards promoting its efforts to increase access to computer science for young people.
The organisation’s primary objective is to fill the gap where computer sciences are not taught as part of the school curriculum. It focuses on teaching schoolchildren how to use software and offers more insight into how new software ideas can be sparked, created and developed.
“Computer science carries a stigma of being a very difficult subject, particularly among previously disadvantaged communities,” Lindiwe Mashinini, the chief executive and founder of Africa Teen Geeks, said in a statement announcing the event. “My desire is to do away with this perception, and get more and more young kids from rural areas and the townships pursuing careers in IT.”
Over 20 000 kids aged 9-18 will be invited to Universities across South Africa where they will learn how to code. #CSEdWeek2015
— Africa Teen Geeks (@africateengeeks) October 28, 2015
In June 2015, Africa Teen Geeks held the Festival of Code hackathon with 100 pupils from around the country. But the Hour of Code promises to be a larger, more constructive workshop that will be able to expose more young people to the science of coding.
“During the Festival of Code, the excitement and hunger to learn from the kids was something to behold. We definitely had to do this on a larger scale, hence the Computer Science Week,” Mashinini added.
The Department of Science and Technology and the various universities involved echoed the sentiments of Africa Teen Geeks, pledging to support the initiative with an investment in teaching skills and tools, as well relooking at the focus of computer science in school curriculums.
Applicants and volunteers for the Hour of Code workshops can visit the Africa Teen Geeks website and the Department of Science and Technology for more information or follow @hourofcodeSA on Twitter, following the hashtag #CSEdWeek2015.