CodeSpark is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that’s teaching children how to code. It’s working with the stated aim of bridging Nigeria’s tech gap by equipping boys and girls with the programming skills they will need to thrive in tomorrow’s world.
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In recent years, there’s been a growth in the number of Nigerians who can code. But this boom is only happening within a small segment of the population, typically young people in a few cities. The importance of this skill has still not been grasped by the majority of the country.
The implication is that we risk condemning a whole generation to struggle in tomorrow’s world.
CodeSpark wants to change this. It’s doing so by introducing children to code in fun ways, and by carrying their parents and schools along in the process. The NGO also wants to inspire creativity and innovation in these young minds, and prepare them for a possible STEM career.
Such a trajectory would mirror the path taken by CodeSpark’s founder, Olaniyi Ayeni. He’s an experienced software developer and data analyst who’s worked in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. These jobs have provided him with a vantage point from which he’s able to ‘peer’ into the future of technology. Ayeni established CodeSpark with his cofounder Olabode Ogunfuye.
CodeSpark ignites the enthusiasm of children for code by teaching them how to work with Scratch, a free programming language. They learn to create games, animation, and interactive stories with code. They also come to appreciate computer science through activities like games and puzzles.
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In the bid to provide a richer experience of tech, CodeSpark introduces children to robotics and teaches them how to make robots and drones. This practical experience and problem-solving skills acquired from this may prove important for people who want to pursue a career in STEM.
Lessons are available from either online or home tutors. Anyone aged between 5 and 21 is free to enrol. Registration is done online, by a parent of a participating child, or by the participant if they are an older individual.
CodeSpark has organized several programs to help children get more involved with tech. They include the Africa Code Week, in which young people have been exposed to code; the Hour of Code, which is an hour-long introduction to computer science; and the Summer Code Camp, an event that primes school children in technological innovation.
As an NGO, CodeSpark depends on volunteers and generous support from donors to carry on with its operations. Volunteers are typically who are passionate about education and the acquisition of IT skills by children. Persons interested in playing this role at CodeSpark can sign up on its website.
Thus far, CodeSpark has reached over 40 schools and charities and engaged over 4,000 students in tech-oriented learning activities. The latest publicly available count from the organization suggests that 40% of the children it’s reached are girls.
There’s still a lot that has to be done for Nigeria to gain a skills advantage for the future. Millions of school children don’t have access to proper computer science training. Millions of others are out of school. Hopefully, more NGOs like CodeSpark emerge to change this status quo for the better.
Featured Image Source: CodeSpark Nigeria
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