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Digital Inclusion

Africa Code Week 2020 focusing on girl coders

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The 2020 Africa Code Week (ACW) will be fully online, and aims to teach millions of African children how to code, with a focus on engaging more young girls and women teachers this year.

Now in its sixth year, ACW is the largest digital literacy initiative on the continent, and it has already impacted over 4 million young people and thousands of teachers.

The project was introduced by SAP, UNESCO and partners back in 2015, to try and spark interest in coding through fun and interactive community workshops for youngsters.

In the first year 88,000 students participated, and that grew to over 3.85 million children and 39,000 teachers, who ran more than 55,000 coding workshops in 37 countries in 2019.

In 2019 over 3.85 million African youngsters took part in Africa Code Week
In 2019 over 3.85 million African youngsters took part in Africa Code Week

Girl power
Africa Code Week ambassador, Faith Mangope, said that a big part of this year's efforts will be focused on engaging more women teachers and students. Last year 47% of participants were girls with plans to increase this in 2020.

"Globally, women hold only 24% of jobs in the ICT sector, and there are 250 million fewer women online than men," she said.

"Our mission is to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to attain the skills they need to contribute meaningfully to the future workforce."

This year ACW will start in the first week of October, and efforts are shifting to a virtual model, which will allow expansion to 54 African countries.

All learning materials have been translated into French and Portuguese for the large Francophone and Lusophone African communities.

A new ACW mobile app has also been introduced, providing access to smartphone material in support of all-inclusive learning.

The ACW initiative will continue to work closely with Ministries of Education across the African continent, with a view to promoting sustainable digital skills development capacity.

Last year 47% of Africa Code Week participants were girls, with plans to increase this number in 2020.
Last year 47% of Africa Code Week participants were girls, with plans to increase this number in 2020.

Something else new in 2020 is the AfriCANCode Challenge, which will kick off in September.

Youngsters between the ages of nine and 16 can use their skills and creativity to solve problems, either on their own or in teams, under two categories: "Courageous Coders" which focuses on how technology can change the world; and "Plugged-in Pupils" which asks youngsters to imagine the potential related to tomorrow's connected school.

Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO, Moez Chakchouk, said there is an urgent need to prepare African youth with digital skills.

"More than 60% of sub-Saharan Africa's population is under the age of 25, making it the most youthful region in the world," he said.

"The continent's working-age population is expected to swell by two-thirds reaching 600 million by 2030. It's clearly critical to ensure Africa's youth is fully equipped with 21st century digital skills."

"Harnessing the power of creativity, technology and innovation can also inspire us to unite and be ready to meet today's challenges."

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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