It Takes a Village to Raise a Child (African Proverb)
This proverb has been taken literally by SAP as the Africa Code Week (ACW) program kicks off in 18 countries, yes 18 countries across the continent of Africa. The dates are fast approaching and a few people have contacted me to find out what it is all about (knowing that I participated in the pilot in Nigeria) so I have decided to share my experience on this blog.
Franck’s first Scratch lesson
What is ACW? It is a program designed by SAP in partnership with Simplon, Ampion, Galway Education Centre and Cape Town Science Centre “with the purpose of empowering youth, teachers and parents with the language of software programming using a freely available “Scratch” ” system to help bridge the digital skills gap across many areas in Africa”.
Why? Africa is a demographic sweet spot. According to the UN, in 2010 there were roughly 200m Africans between 15 and 24 years of age and this number could rise to over 450m by 2050. However, there is a dearth of the requisite skills within this working age group and it is predicted that if nothing is done in the area of education and innovation, economic progress will be hampered.
How? SAP and its partners would like to future-proof the skills of this youth group. Relying on the cooperative and collaborative will of volunteers to travel to selected locations, we hope to train and inspire the future generation of African coders. Kids are trained in visual programming language (VPL) known as Scratch; a program designed by the MIT team. The program guarantees creative freedom in that; it helps children explore, experience and express their own world where they are limited only by their imagination.
My experience – “Scratch”ing the surface
Why did I get involved? I have a passion for coding and life-long education. Having participated in the EU Code week in 2014 and currently coordinating Nigeria’s FIRST LEGO League program, I wanted to do more for my native country’s youth. These innovative and robotics programs are designed to excite children about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and teach them valuable employment and life skills. In June this year, I was invited to coordinate the pilot of the AWC program in Nigeria at the Ojodu Junior Grammar School in the Ikeja Suburb of Lagos State Nigeria. The goal was to introduce Scratch to 100 students and some teachers. This was made more significant by the presence of Franck Cohen (President SAP EMEA) who was visiting Nigeria at the time.
The plan was simple, the target was 100 kids and teachers, so I carried out a ‘Train the Trainer’ course for 5 SAP volunteers, and 10 teachers (some of whom I worked with on previous FLL challenges). On the day of the event we divided the group into 5 (20 per class) with 1 SAP volunteer and 1 or 2 teachers per group making the tutor to child ratio approx (1:7). The more trainers you can train the better.
Within a period of 2 hours, the kids amazed and dazzled us with their dexterity. All you need to do is help them “scratch” the surface by providing the initial training and guidance, they will pick it up and stretch their imagination to the limit. Like every other coding program, scratch is iterative, you try one thing, it doesn’t work and then you try and try again until it works. This fits the mode and method of learning that kids love, they want to be able to ask their own questions and find answers themselves.
Team effort: It takes a team to make this work.
Special thanks to the following colleagues, without their support the event wouldn’t have been possible:
Claire GILLISSEN-DUVAL, Sunil Geness, Antonia Ashton, Arnaud Merlet, Danha Kudzai, Olu Familusi, Rebecca Nicholson, Melissa Joelson, Juliet Omororodion, Olufemi Hassan, Afolabi Abdulrazaq, Olurotimi Ige, Ayorinde Oluwatomi, Eileen Pardy, Kevin Conroy, Frank Falvey and also to Franck Cohen, Liam Ryan, Frederic Masse for supporting the initiative
Why Not Get Involved?
I encourage other SAP colleagues to become involved. The experience is inspirational and what you gain is more than what you give. It is a learning experience as much for you as for the kids.
- All you require to participate is some intrinsic attributes (scratch you can learn🙂) a bucket load of enthusiasm and the ability to inspire🙂. To learn the Scratch program, check out a very rich video-based course on OpenSAP providing all you need to know. If you require a 1-1 walk-through, you can reach out to me for a quick overview. (I am scheduling a few sessions) all you need is about an hour and you would be flying…
- Go for it; you’ll be thrilled you did! Who knows you may even be presented with some leis:-)
Remember ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. Maimonides
- Have a short presentation/guide to hand (you can take some notes when going through the course on OpenSAP)
- Have a USB to hand with Scratch 2.0 and Adobe Air installed.
Here are some pictures from the event:
Presentation of leis; the African welcome:-)
Franck being introduced to Scratch
Work in progress
Afolabi and Olufemi “Scratching”
The SAP team with the Principal of Ojodu Grammar School
The SAP team with some of the students and mentors
School showcasing Trophies and robot donated by SAP for the FLL program
The SAP team with some students and teachers