In the presence of Hon. Dr Siyabonga Cwele, South African Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services and Hon. Ms Pinky Kekana, Deputy Minister of Communications, the 2018 edition of the SAP led initiative Africa Code Week kicked off today in Johannesburg, South Africa. Organized in collaboration with UNESCO’s YouthMobile Programme and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the initiative has introduced over the years, more than 1.8 million African youth, teachers and educators to computer coding skills in many African countries. Launched on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, this edition of Africa Code Week will run during the month of October, aiming to engage an additional 600 000 youth across 36 African countries with the support of many UNESCO’s Field Offices.
Welcoming and praising the initiative, Hon. Dr Siyabonga Cwele highlighted how critical it is to continue building partnerships between governments, the private sector and the civil society to cope with the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Minister also stressed the importance of creating the necessary conditions for teachers' inclusion in the process, and called for “demystifying coding and prepare our teachers” so as to “ensure children and youth in Africa have the skills for the 21st century digital revolution to contribute meaningfully to the economy”. Hon. Dr Siyabonga further called for action to empower women as the gender gap in ICT access and skills is actually increasing.
Referring to the ongoing South African Jobs Summit discussions, Hon Ms Kekana recalled the need to implement multipronged solutions instead of only discussing problems. “Digital skills”, she said, “are required by the growth of the digital economy, which is all around us and will stay“. Initiatives such as Africa Code Week make this real: “coding is the new English in the digital economy”, she said.
“By learning how to code, technology can make changes to lives and society: it is more about creativity and problem solving”, said Ms Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa. Explaining the motivations of SAP in leading this increasingly successful initiative, Ms Smith added that “by inspiring a new generation of African youth through digital skills development, and by empowering teachers and communities with digital teaching tools, we aim to accelerate digital literacy while ensuring a more inclusive and innovation-led workforce".
During a panel discussion with Mr Roland Lindenthal (BMZ), Ms Baratang Miya (#Girl Hype), Mr Storti, YouthMobile coordinator at UNESCO it was stressed how this initiative is an example of fruitful collaboration and engagement of multiple stakeholders. He further stressed the need to ensuring follow-up actions so that these efforts and teachers engagement are sustained.
During the meeting it was recalled that Africa Code Week key partners SAP, UNESCO YouthMobile and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) joined forces in 2017 as part of the G20 #eSkills4girls initiative. #eSkills4Girls focuses on actions to bridge the gender digital divide by globally increasing the access of women and girls in the digital world and boosting relevant education and employment opportunities.
Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This year, the celebrations aim at reminding the global community that “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.” This theme was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), where education is recognized as a key fundamental right. A right that cannot be fulfilled without qualified teachers.
As part of this year’s Africa Code Week, training of trainers workshops were organized by SAP and its partners across 20 countries in the build-up to the 2018 edition, 500 teachers were trained in Ghana, 1,200 in Nigeria, 200 in Madagascar, and another 1,000 in Botswana.
This edition of Africa Code Week is supported by a number of UNESCO Offices in Africa, including Dakar, Cairo, Nairobi, Yaoundé, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Maputo, and Windhoek, in collaboration with many UNESCO’s networks.
For the third year Google is also supporting Africa Code Week with the aim of creating more creators and more tech start-ups by Africans for Africans.
Since 2014, the UNESCO YouthMobile initiative deploys and supports projects worldwide to promote the learning of digital technical skills and abilities among young women and men, the citizens of today and tomorrow.
To find out when your country’s Africa Code Week activities will take place, please visit https://africacodeweek.org/activities/2018-calendar/.