Nigerian Secondary School Students develop Mobile Applications, seek more training opportunities

The Abuja segment of the YouthMobile training for students of government secondary schools in Abuja, Nigeria came to an end on Monday 24th August, 2015, during a colorful closing ceremony where the students gathered to demonstrate various wonderful mobile applications which they developed after undergoing a four-week long training on development of mobile applications. 68 students participated in the training and were grouped into 14 teams to identify challenges or problem areas of the society that could be resolved with the aid of the mobile apps they were to develop. It is the first of its kind to be organized by UNESCO in Nigeria and was based on the beginner and intermediate levels of the App Inventor curriculum from the well acclaimed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA).

The training which took place between  27 July–21 August, 2015 was organized by UNESCO and the Schools Education Board of Abuja, F.C.T.  Samsung Electronics supported by donating laptops used during the training which were subsequently given to the participating schools at another event which took place at the UNESCO Abuja regional office on 7 September, 2015 (News Agency of Nigeria, The Eagle Online).

The closing ceremony, which was very engaging, was attended by principals from the selected 18 government secondary schools, officials of the secondary school education board and UNESCO officials. Some of the Apps that were developed and demonstrated by the students include:

Know your Country–Nigeria – An App which allows young people to know about the country and the president, including a question and answer section.

Hydrating Education – an App which enables rural and urban schools in Nigeria get access to good drinking water through their respective government agencies

English Pro – designed to teach individuals how to speak proper English by improving their knowledge of the English Language. It contains different spelling categories like spelling, pronunciation, and comprehension. It includes a read-to-me button which when clicked, begins to read to the user of the app.

Learn Alphabets in an easy way – an educational App designed for kids to know the alphabets. It educates the child on what each letter stands for including images and voice prompts that call out the Alphabet.

Other Apps include Calc Plus, Safety App, Web Locator, My Career Guide, My Review, Musical App, Story Telling App and Health Tips.

In his speech, the Director/ Representative UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja, Dr. Benoit Sossou, who was represented by Ms. Adele Nibona said the YouthMobile Initiative builds on the experience of many worldwide initiatives that introduce young people to computer science programming (learning-to-code) and problem solving (coding-to-learn). It also seeks to build on experiences targeting young women who are vastly underrepresented in this field. Finally it builds on the consideration that for millions of young people, the smartphone in their pocket is a very powerful computer, it will be their only computer, and they use it for nearly every aspect of their lives: communicating, learning, taking pictures, and playing games.

He also said that the YouthMobile Initiative aims to empower youth with the high-level skills and confidence to create mobile apps that are locally-relevant and contribute to the reduction of chronic youth unemployment. The global objective is to engage at least 25,000 young people and sell at least 5,000 mobile apps by 2017.

He went further to draw the attention of the students and their principals to the fact that in June this year, Team Charis Nigeria, made up of a group of girls from Calabar, Cross River State in Nigeria won the High School Division of the 2015 Technovation Global Challenge in San Francisco, America with their app “Discardious,” a mobile solution to the problem of improper waste disposal in Nigeria. This goes to show that with the proper training, secondary school students in Nigeria can proffer global standard solutions to local challenges and that UNESCO therefore intends to link existing competitors to each other through the creation of the first global list of app competitors. This will encourage trained students to submit apps for prizes, recognition, and employment opportunities.

The second segment of the YouthMobile training is has been planned to hold at the Samsung/UNESCO Digital Village in Oban Town, Cross River State, Nigeria, during the fourth quarter of this year