At daybreak on Sunday 28th August 2016, the Africa Code Week (ACW) Master instructor team from Ireland arrived in Uganda. The team comprised of Bernard Kirk, the Co-founder of ACW and Director of Galway Education Centre, Ciaran O’Connor- in charge of Communications at ACW and four high-spirited trainers who came to equip and train ACW trainers in Uganda.
ACW is an initiative in its second year of implementation and has the goal of empowering future generations with the coding tools and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and become key actors in Africa’s economic development. In its first year running, the initiative was able to reach over 80,000 children and youth across the continent and introduce them to code. With little participation from Uganda in its first year, the team’s leader- Bernard Kirk, decided to take it to Twitter, urging the Irish Ambassador to Uganda to push the cause forward. His imploration resulted in a team of partners joining hands to increase ACW’s reach in Uganda. This year, twelve schools in Uganda will participate in the ACW challenge between the 15th and 23rd of October thanks to its partners- the Makerere School of Public Health- ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Makerere University, College of Engineering, Design, Art & Technology (CEDAT), College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) and Women in Technology Uganda (WITU).
The training sessions for ACW trainers in Uganda took place on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th August at the College of Engineering, Design, Art & Technology, Makerere. Future trainers were introduced to Scratch- ‘a free programming software that allows users to create their own interactive stories, games and animations’. ‘The world is fundamentally changing,’ one of the trainers Brendan Smith shared. ‘There are now three languages of education, instead of two- Reading, Writing and the third is Coding.’ Many of the future trainers spoke of how they wished they could’ve been introduced to coding through Scratch. ‘It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s extremely engaging,’ one of the RAN trainees shared. ‘I enjoyed the sessions so much, I decided to attend two of the sessions instead of one,’ another mentioned.
The group from Ireland held four successful training sessions over the two-days and drew a crowd of 243 Ugandan ACW trainers, far surpassing the anticipated 80 trainers that were expected to attend the sessions. Elated with the outcome of the trainings, Mr. Kirk shared that he was ‘completely amazed by the quality of the young people in Uganda.’ ‘You have a fantastic next generation,’ he added.
The team of young ACW trainers were equipped with the Scratch software and will go on to share the knowledge they’ve gained with their siblings, nieces and nephews and while visiting the schools participating in ACW.
We at the ResilientAfrica Network can NOT wait for October when it will be ‘On your marks!’ ‘Get set!’ ‘CODE! Month’