Why Digital Literacy Matters…
I was born and raised in Versailles, France. Yes, the city with the castle! Versailles is well known for its education system, and I was no exception – studied for 15 years in school and university where I was taught everything a young French girl like myself needed to know to succeed in her professional life.
Yet, I was never taught how to use a computer… much less how to code…
Education fuels economic growth, helps families and communities to prosper, and empowers people to gain employment and live healthier, more fulfilling lives. In the 21st century global economy, a well-educated and skilled workforce is critical for countries and companies to thrive. That is why we should all be concerned that many parts of the world continue to suffer from high levels of unemployment and chronic skills shortages. This is therefore critical to sustaining this growth in Africa by framing development goals on education. The impact is real.
There has been significant progress in improving access to education – 39 million more children are now in school and enrollment rates have improved to over 80 percent. However, what really matters is that once inside the classroom, children learn the literacy, numeracy and life skills that will enable them to succeed throughout childhood and as adults.
I just came back from Rwanda where I had the opportunity to experience SAP’s Africa Code Week initiative:
A continent-wide initiative to spark the interest of African children, teenagers and young adults in software coding. Spearheaded by the SAP CSR EMEA team in 2015 as part of its social investments to drive sustainable growth in Africa. Africa Code Week is the story of hundreds of schools, teachers, ministers, community centers, code clubs, Non-Governmental Organizations, businesses and non-profits getting together to deliver the largest digital literacy initiative ever organized on the African continent. Key partners include the Cape Town Science Centre and the Galway Education Centre.
I could see first-hand how these kids – who were seeing a computer for the first time in their life – were eager to learn how to use it. Despite the excitement of having European visitors in their classroom, the computer drew them in, and they quickly focused on reproducing the steps their instructor gave them to finalize their coding lines.
At the end of the 1 hour session, they were at ease with the machine – and able to program their own animations, quizzes, and online games thanks to Scratch, a playful learning platform developed by the MIT Media Lab to simplify the face of coding for the young generation.
The impact of such an initiative is huge: spreading digital literacy across the continent will start shaping tomorrow’s skilled workforce for sustainable growth in Africa.
At SAP, we believe that digital literacy has the power to put millions of young Africans on the path to successful careers. We believe that trained, tech-savvy graduates have it in their very own hands to improve Africa’s position in the globally competitive knowledge economy.
I was honored to be able to acknowledge this effort first-hand, by accompanying my SAP colleagues and their NGO partners to the schools. You can find more info on this outstanding program here: http://africacodeweek.org/
I am proud to work for a company that enables the acceleration of the digital literacy, and I am excited to realize that these young people will have an even better computer knowledge than the one I could get when I was their age!
Picture I took during of one the Kigali Schools ‘visit: the digital curiosity goes beyond the walls of the classroom!