Students develop apps to tackle pressing social issues (The Jordan Times)

12/12/2018
Amman, Jordan

AMMAN — A team of university students has recently released 10 mobile applications addressing local issues through “YouthMobile”, a first-of-its-kind project implemented by UNESCO Jordan and the Digital Opportunity Trust charity. Youth unemployment, mobility challenges, a lack of public transportation and educational opportunities are some of the challenges the applications tackle. Supported by the EU, in collaboration with the University of Jordan Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre and the Princess Sumaya University for Technology, the project trained students on mobile app programming, coding, innovation and social entrepreneurship. “Through this powerful initiative, youth have come to see their mobile phones as tools of creation, instead of a means for consumption,” representatives of the UN agency said in a statement, adding that “when empowered with the skills to create their own mobile apps, participants began to display their unique problem solving visions”. “When I was a child, video games were all about killing aliens, shooting bad guys and jumping over barrels to save the girl from the angry monster,” UNESCO Programme Officer Ikhlas Al Khawaldeh recalled. “Now, new types of games and smart mobile apps are designed to raise awareness on sustainable development and spread messages of peace.”But technology’s impact on society can extend beyond the functions of the app itself, said UJ student and trainee, Tasneem Abdelhadi, who believes that coding skills can help address the low participation of women in the tech field.“

Coding training courses such as YouthMobile, are succeeding at increasing the number of female graduates positioned at much higher levels,

My experience during the training was very unique; getting to meet new ambitious individuals that share the same passion to help their societies was very eye opening, and even though we were competing, we were like a family, which made the experience very special,” student Basheer Shahabi told The Jordan Times in a recent interview. Shahabi developed Halaqet Wasel [“link” in Arabic], an app that seeks to provide youth with a clear understanding of their educational choices. “What Halaqet Wasel is doing is providing [people with] a variety of choices based on variables such as price, location, rating and much more,” the app developer said. “Every little detail that I’ve learned will help me in building my career path, especially since the training covered the latest technologies and coding languages used in today’s world,” he added. Thanks to the training, I have widened my experience and now I know how to code in Android’s language,” said Yaqeen Smadi, who developed an app to connect unemployed youth with photography, design and production freelance opportunities. The app will be available on Android’s Google Play in January 2019, under the name Frame IT, Smadi told The Jordan Times. In a recent ceremony held by UNESCO, the top six app developers were awarded prizes and seed funding, while others will soon be made available on Android’s Google Play app store, according to a statement issued by the UN agency. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Director of the Digital Opportunity Trust Noor Homoud expressed her “enthusiasm” at seeing “Jordanian youth who have dedicated time and effort to develop innovation and entrepreneurship through technology”. She also highlighted “the importance of such partnerships in providing multiple opportunities for youth, who are embarking on their futures”.