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Coding drives inclusive education in Africa

Is coding a universal language that can bridge not only the gender and income gaps but enable also inclusive access to 21st century education? For the passionate team of Africa Code Week ambassadors in Mozambique, the answer is a resounding yes. 

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“Coding is a language that everyone can – and should – speak in order to be active participants in the global digital economy,” says Sonia Santos, local coordinator for Africa Code Week, which saw activities across the continent over the past month. “With the support of our public and private sector partners, Africa Code Week is delivering on its vision of a 21stcentury inclusive education by reaching Mozambique’s hearing-impaired community for the first time.”

With more than 1.8 million young Africans already introduced to coding skills over the past three years, Africa Code Week has made a lasting contribution to the continent, enabling free access to thousands of digital skills development workshops while building teaching capacity in ICT education through the training of over 28,000 teachers and community members so far.

The universal language of code

Africa Code Week’s coding workshops for hearing-impaired children in Mozambique were part of SAP’s  broader commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), specifically Goal 4, which aims to ensure quality and inclusive education.

The programme also gives credence to SDG goal 17 through sustainable partnerships with its Africa-wide partnership network.  According to Santos, the response to their first foray into providing inclusive  workshops for local deaf communities was overwhelmingly positive.

“Earlier in October, we held hugely successful Master Trainer sessions in Maputo where 24 teachers from several special needs local schools were trained in coding skills. These teachers then led the coding workshops with support from volunteers in Maputo, where a total of 105 hearing-impaired students participated over two days.”

Mozambique has an estimated 305 000 deaf people. However, due to a lack of adequate support structures and ongoing  stigma, many are unable to access formal education or work opportunities.

“Mozambique only has three schools dedicated to teaching deaf children, which leaves most of the community without exposure to digital skills development opportunities. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace, those without such skills are at risk of being left behind. It is our goal to empower Africa’s youth with the skills they need to thrive in the global digital economy in an inclusive and sustainable manner.”

A private sector partnership with Mapal, a German industrial manufacturing firm, resulted in a sponsorship of a Train-the-Trainer session that was held at the Institute of Vocational Training in Vilankulo.

“With the generous support of our private sector partners, we trained 20 teachers who in turn inspired 200 youth as part of this year’s ACW.”

Partnership with government extends ACW reach

She says that government support for this year’s Africa Code Week activities has been hugely encouraging.

“We have partnered with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher and Vocational Professional Education, that has delegations (CPRDs) in each of our provinces with access to computers in regions where many children had never touched or worked on a PC before. With the support of the National Institute of Electronical Governance, we have also trained 345 teachers as part of this year’s Train-the-Trainer activities, focusing on parts of the country where digital literacy is lagging.”

According to Sunil Geness, Project Lead for Africa Code Week at SAP Africa, the in-country support and participation of government and NGOs is one of the cornerstones of Africa Code Week’s sustainable impact across the continent.

“In addition to support from key partners, UNESCO YouthMobile, Google and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Africa Code Week is actively driven by more than 15 African governments and in excess of 150 partner organisations across 36 countries. We believe this shared-value approach holds the key to achieving our vision of building community capacity in ICT education across the continent and equipping youth with the skills and abilities that will drive their – and Africa’s – success in the 21st century.”

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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