Mindjoy targets million pupils with online coding sessions

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 09 Feb 2022
Gabi Immelman, founder of Mindjoy.
Gabi Immelman, founder of Mindjoy.

Cape Town-based start-up Mindjoy aims to teach a million school pupils in SA and beyond local borders to code.

Founded by Gabi Immelman in July 2021, Mindjoy says it aims to tackle one of the ICT sector’s most pervasive challenges – the lack of digital skills development.

The start-up makes use of Replit, a browser-based development environment that doesn’t require specific hardware or software, to make coding possible for participants on any mobile phone, tablet or computer that can connect to the internet.

Through live, small-group, virtual coding classes, kids aged eight years and above are taught how to code in real programming languages through hands-on projects.

The coding sessions are facilitated by vetted and trained coaches, who are tasked with helping pupils to create project tracks that students work on, from creating computer-generated artworks in Python, to working with data and using APIs to build games.

Operational across Africa and Europe, Mindjoy’s mission is to develop kids’ critical skills while they learn to express themselves using technology, according to the company.

Immelman points out the emphasis of the sessions is more about how the young participants feel during the learning process than the actual information imparted.

“Being forced into boring educational environments means kids build up resistance to learning. Our approach is to let the kids lead and invite their friends to learn alongside them. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to experience learning that is joyful, curious and inspiring,” Immelman says.

“Kids learn real world programming languages and skills to equip them for the future of work, and we start them as young as eight years old. We partner with some of the industry’s top experts and developers, like Carel van Wyk, co-founder of Luno, to develop our projects.”

According to professional skills development firm Skills Development Corporation,the tech sector tops the list with the 25 most in-demand jobs in SA today.

The company reveals the most in-demand jobs in the tech sector include cyber security, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, software development, and data science.

Industry pundits believe coding has the power to put millions of young Africans on the path to successful careers and empower them to build sustainable growth where companies are currently struggling to hire qualified IT talent.

Mindjoy notes its development team of four is crafting a custom-designed platform that uses machine learning to match kids to their optimal peer group. Helping kids find the right projects and the right peers is the secret to having them discover their own superpowers, Immelman adds.

The Mindjoy platform is accessible from anywhere in the world. Kids from as far afield as the UK, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, SA, Nigeria and Namibia currently join sessions, with more countries being added weekly.

Membership costs R1 000 a month per kid, with unlimited open training sessions and weekly scheduled sessions. Parents can also log in and see their child’s progress at any time of day or night.

In addition to offering individual memberships, Mindjoy partners with corporates that purchase Mindjoy memberships for kids from underprivileged backgrounds, in efforts to help it meet its target of training one million children.

“We won’t be able to truly benefit from the fourth industrial revolution or the metaverse unless we help kids to become lifelong learners. This business is about making that a reality, while also teaching kids to enjoy acquiring the type of technology skills South Africa and Africa as a continent requires from its future creators,” Immelman concludes.