SAP targets 1.5m young Africans for Africa Code Week

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 14 Oct 2019
Research has shown the urgent and persistent need to raise the digital skills game in the education sector.
Research has shown the urgent and persistent need to raise the digital skills game in the education sector.

Software giant SAP has trained 4.1 million youth to date and has set a target to train 1.5 million more this year, as part of the SAP Africa Code Week (ACW) 2019 skills development initiative.

The fifth edition of ACW was launched last week and will run during the entire month of October, with the South African edition running from 4 to18 October.

Established in 2015, the SAP ACW is an initiative that brings together hundreds of schools, teachers, governments, businesses and non-profit organisations with the aim to empower young people across Africa with digital literacy skills.

The skills initiative was formed by SAP EMEA, in partnership with the Cape Town Science Centre, Google, Galway Education Centre, UNESCO and local government, among others.

SAP says since ACW’s launch, it has empowered and trained 4.1 million pupils with digital skills, through more than 70 000 coding workshops held across the continent.

Of these, more than 1.8 million were girls, reflecting a huge appetite for digital skills development among African girls.

“With 15 million to 20 million young people expected to join the African workforce every year for the next three decades, delivering the ecosystem for quality jobs – and future skills to match, will be imperative for fully leveraging the continent’s demographic dividend,” says Faith Mangope, brand ambassador of SAP ACW.

“21st century skills ensure everyone can participate in and benefit from today's digital world. Coding helps kids hone a wide array of essential hard and soft skills, from geometry, to writing all the way to critical thinking and teamwork.”

The local edition of ACW 2019 has set an ambitious target of empowering more than 100 000 South African youth over the two-week period.

Every year, the programme extends its reach across Africa and now spans across 37 countries with translations into English, Portuguese and French.

ACW this year comes two weeks after the release of the 10th edition of the South African ICT Skills Survey, carried out by the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering at Wits University, in partnership with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa.

The survey highlights the poor state of education in SA, and in particular, the very low number of learners achieving competence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

Research conducted by the International Finance Corporation shows demand for digital skills in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate than in other markets.

The report estimates 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030, presenting investors and education operators with an estimated $130 billion opportunity to train the future workforce in digital skills.

Leaving no child behind

With a deliberate intention of leaving no child behind, ACW says it reaches every corner of the continent, including remote areas without electricity or computers, and communities with special needs classes for hearing- and sight-impaired children.

Faith Mangope, brand ambassador of SAP ACW.
Faith Mangope, brand ambassador of SAP ACW.

This past weekend, the Cape Town Science Centre hosted an ACW Coding Carnival which almost 900 people attended and around 300 youth took part in several coding workshops.

“With new technologies emerging and advancing faster than ever and lines of code running every aspect of our daily lives, developing these skills is critical to empower young people to thrive in the future workforce,” notes Mangope.

“Learning how to code also helps them develop this ‘algorithmic thinking’ the world will need more and more to solve increasingly complex challenges and socio-economic equations. For a coder, there is no such thing as a problem without a solution, a state of mind that will enable young people to thrive in the 4IR workforce.”

In August, Google SA committed to upskill over 30 000 primary and high school leaners across SA’s nine provinces through its computer science programme, CS First.

CS First is an educator-created programme to equip learners with the fundamentals of computer science in a collaborative environment, and make coding easy to teach and fun to learn.

CodeJIKA, an initiative of non-profit organisation Code for Change, aims to have at least 20% of South African secondary schools teaching coding and computer science skills by 2020.

The organisation works closely with the Department of Basic Education, targeting an increased uptake of computer science in South African schools and to ensure these skills are transferred into formal education policy or curriculum revision in the future.

Drik Greeff, chief education specialist of e-learning at the Eastern Cape Department of Education, (ECDOE) believes coding teaches learners to strategically tackle challenges.

“Coding is the language computers, robots, mobile devices and Web sites use, it is logic, and a step-by-step set of instructions to be performed until the task is successfully achieved. This thinking approach helps learners to tackle other problems and challenges in the same way.”

“In line with the government’s priority to digitise education, ECDOE has partnered with Vodacom in implementing the ECDOE Connect, Teach, Learn project which includes the procurement and distribution of ICT hardware and connectivity across schools in the province,” concludes Greeff.

Various coding workshops and initiatives will be held throughout the continent in the month of October. For more information, visit the ACW Map.