Empowering women teachers in Africa Code Week 2019

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”  This famous African proverb indicates the necessity of educating women to empower society in a whole. Highlighting the essential role that women teachers play in education, Africa Code Week 2019 was officially launched on 4 October 2019 in Rabat, Morocco, following a workshop for the empowerment of women ICT teachers.

Twenty-eight female ICT teachers from fifteen African countries attended the workshop addressing the importance of women’s role in shaping the digital world and the future of work. The event was an opportunity to share concrete teaching practices and experiences on digital skills development for students and on teachers’ efforts to increase girls’ access to digital education across Africa.

The workshop was the result of a collaboration between SAP, UNESCO, the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Kingdom of Morocco and BMZ (Germany). 

Through seminars and interactive sessions, the women teachers were introduced to newest tech trends as well as pedagogical methodologies and approaches linked to the teaching of “computer science”. The teachers had intensive discussions around their own coding-teaching experiences in their respective countries. They were introduced to “Design Thinking” and “Computational Thinking” with a view to further expand their coding lessons. Davide Storti, UNESCO YouthMobile Coordinator, addressed digital gender divide issues and illustrated relevant UNESCO and UN frameworks within the Sustainable Development Goals. A school tour was organized by the Moroccan Ministry so to demonstrate live coding lessons in both primary and secondary classes to the participants.

With the ambitious goal of empowering more than 1.5 million young people and over 50,000 teachers in total, Africa Code Week 2019 (ACW) was officially launched on 4 October, to conclude the workshop and formally start the coding training activities in the 37 participating countries. 

During the event, Ms Ilham Laaziz, Director of the GENIE program at the Moroccan Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, remarked the importance of teacher training for keeping the promise of offering relevant digital skills to children. She said, “Africa Code Week is an extraordinary opportunity to make computer science education a priority and also a nationwide celebration for both teachers and students.” Since ACW was launched in 2015, Morocco has reached a record with over 8,600 teachers and 1.6 million young people trained in Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu (link is external)).

Frédéric Alran, Managing Director for Francophone Africa at SAP, addressed SAP’s wish of exploring each individual’s skillsets and its efforts to help people’s capacity building through its Africa Code Week (ACW) initiative. “ We can’t empower girls without empowering their actual role models first”, says Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility and Africa Code Week Lead at SAP. In her closing remark, she emphasized the essential role that women teachers and girls play in ICT education: “This year, Africa Code Week partners have put special focus on the issue of digital inclusion and gender equality.” 

Recognizing the necessity and importance of teacher empowerment for mainstreaming digital skills education, the UNESCO representative expressed the Organization’s full commitment towards bridging the digital gender divide. Through its 2019 YouthMobile Seed-Grants programme, UNESCO is supporting the organization of dozens of coding workshops for girls and teachers in some 20 Africa Code Week countries.

On occasion of the fifth anniversary of Africa Code Week, and to celebrate the world teachers’ day, UNESCO and SAP co-organized an informational event on 7 October in Paris, France, at the presence of many Africa Code Week partners and delegates from African countries.

Africa Code Week is the single largest digital literacy event on the African continent. UNESCO supports SAP’s Africa Code Week through its YouthMobile Initiative since 2016. 

The UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative deploys projects worldwide to promote training in digital technology and to enable young women and men with the skills they need to solve local challenges.

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