University students tour the African continent and teach kids to code to celebrate 100 years of Finland.
Education and technology organisations from Finland and South Africa will come together in May to run creative coding workshops for local students in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Kimberley and Cape Town. The collaboration is part of the CodeBus Africa project, a 100-day tour connecting Finnish and African innovators as part of Finland's official 100th anniversary celebrations. The CodeBus Africa journey, which has been running since February of this year, will span ten countries in total – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The South African tour of CodeBus Africa will be organised by Finland’s Aalto university and local tech start-up accelerator mLab, with the support of the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria. The project, which is sponsored by the Finnish global telecom leader Nokia, will place special emphasis on involving girls who remain underrepresented among the users and creators of technology.
With its focus firmly on the young, this innovative activity will consist of creative coding workshops, most of which will be run in township communities. Learners will pair up to produce their own song with the open-source programming platform Sonic Pi – a tried-and-true curriculum developed by a Finnish technology education company and project partner Mehackit. Peer support, creative self-expression and a tangible final product are all elements designed to make the learning experience positive and rewarding. The aim of the project is to boost grassroots level teaching of computer programming, and to contribute to long-term efforts to promote quality education, youth empowerment and employment. The South African tour will culminate with a celebration in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, hosted by Finnish DJ Emma Kemppainen, where the music developed by the young African coders will be showcased.
"I am pleased that we are able to bring CodeBus to South Africa as part of our anniversary celebrations," commented Kari Alanko, Ambassador of Finland in South Africa. “The theme of Finland 100 is ‘together’, and I am confident that the CodeBus reflects our commitment to work together with South Africa to tackle challenges such as youth unemployment. We hope the workshops will help to promote inclusive innovation and inspire more girls and boys in South Africa to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, even as possible career choices.“
“The CodeBus is also an especially suitable way for us to celebrate Finland 100 in South Africa where we have for many years supported innovation through our development cooperation,” Ambassador Alanko says. “This is why the partnerships with Aalto University and mLab, also supported by Finland make perfect sense.”
I am also delighted to see a strong Finnish company, Nokia, as a partner in this project. Nokia is a global leader in innovation and technology , that stresses the fact that Finland 100 is just as much about looking into the next centenary as celebrating the past one.”
“We are proud of every opportunity to show our capacity in shaping the future of technology, which transforms the human experience,” says Deon Geyser, Head of Southern Africa and Vodafone (SAV) at Nokia. “The CodeBus initiative is an occasion to witness leading African and Finnish innovators joining forces, empowering Africa’s youth, allowing them to explore and experience innovation transforming their lives.”
“The philosophy of CodeBus from the start has been to work with local partners such as tech and innovation hubs, community based organisations and employees in each country. As such, the project is training 50 new coding instructors from Finland and Africa,” he says. The coding instructors come from Aalto University and the local partners in Africa. ”We hope that by doing so, those trained locally will continue to replicate the training workshops in other cities, communities and schools, and also inspire young people across the continent to develop a passion for learning ICT skills in a fun and enjoyable way.”
“At Nokia, we are always exploring new and innovative ideas and projects that expand the human possibility of technology. Nokia is supporting several initiatives across the globe to connect the un-connected, support gender diversity, and save lives. We look forward to more engagements in Africa in the future,” Geyser concludes.
CodeBus Africa is coordinated by Aalto Global Impact, which promotes Aalto University’s societal impact globally through education, research and innovation. The project's organising partners are the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Nokia, Supercell, Mehackit and over 15 African technology hubs, educational institutions and organisations.