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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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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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