Africa Code Week: UNESCO Supports Four Institutions with $2,000 Seed-fund

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) has supported four institutions in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with 2,000  dollars seed-fund to facilitate training of 3,000 young girls on  coding language.

Mr Macaulay Olushola, the National Information and Communications Programme Officer, disclosed this on Thursday in an interview in Abuja.

The seed-fund was part of the organisation’s programme of promoting the Africa Code Week.

Africa Code Week is a programme by SAP, a German multinational software cooperation which is usually held at the end October.

Africa Code week is the single largest digital literacy event on the continent and the 2019 edition aimed to reach 1.5 million young people and over 50,000 teachers and trainers to equip them with basic programming skills.

UNESCO for five years had supported the Africa Code Week through its YouthMobile Initiative, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) project for empowering young people with skills in digital technology to address their local challenges.

Olusola listed the benefitting institution as Zariah Elizabeth Foundation, Naza Agape Foundation, Peace Makers Children Mission School, Benin Republic and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

The officer, however, regretted that the organisation was considering cancelling the support to NOUN because it  had demonstrated less interest in implementing the project.

Olushola said “it is the target of UNESCO’s national office to empower 3,000 young girls in Nigeria and Benin Republic with coding and programming language.

“UNESCO realises the importance of catching these girls young because it seems the industry is male-dominated and we also want to use the avenue to encourage equal gender education.

“To have a society with a fair balance of skills, it is important that we start early from the secondary schools to invest in these girls.

“To support this year’s code week and achieve the target, the national office of UNESCO supported four institutions within the territory with 2,000 dollars each to facilitate the training of young girls and teachers on coding language,” he said.

Olushola urged stakeholders to make conscious efforts toward ensuring that young girls, especially in rural areas were encouraged on education and to acquire skills that could build their capacity.

Confirming the support, Ms Rhoda Babatunde, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Naza Agape Foundation, said the seed-fund had helped them train 1,046 girls and 115 teachers in five schools from Nasarawa State.

Babatunde said that the schools engaged in the training were randomly picked without special criteria.

She, however, called on stakeholders to put facilities on ground that would enhance learning of coding language in secondary schools, especially the public ones.

“It will be more beneficial if the government, UNESCO can provide a standby solar power supply system in some of these schools to power their systems because most of the schools we visited have challenges of power supply.

“Coding and programming language will also be sustained if a few teachers are skilfully trained to keep teaching their students coding,” Babatunde said.

Mr Akindayo Akindolani, the CEO of Zariah Elizabeth said they were engaged in training over 30 teachers from some schools in the territory who would train others.

Akindolani added that the foundation provided training materials and stipends for the teachers who were expected to train other teachers and students for knowledge sustainability.