The Olieven Development Association proudly celebrated 15 talented kids, ages 7 to 16, who completed the CoderDojo programme. These graduations stand as a beacon of hope, fueled by an initiative that’s igniting a brighter future for tech in South Africa and Africa at large. CoderDojo was founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao. It started with James, an 18-year-old coder who ran a club in his high school. At a later stage, Bill, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, would join him. The pair teamed up in 2013, founding CoderDojo, a volunteer-led organisation. It has since grown exponentially, currently available in over 100 countries.
Recent World Bank data underscores a critical challenge facing the African continent in the digital age. According to these findings, 87% of African business leaders have identified digital skills development as a crucial area needing urgent investment. This urgency is highlighted by the fact that in 2022, African countries scored below five on the Digital Skills Gap Index, trailing behind the global average of six.
Khethiwe Nkuna, Accenture’s Responsible Business Executive in South Africa, shared her views at the event, “Today, we celebrate the graduation of these talented young minds from the CoderDojo programme, we are witnessing the shaping of our future leaders in technology. The need for digital literacy and skills development has never been more critical, especially here in Africa, and Accenture is committed to playing a pivotal role in driving this transformation,” she said.
The CoderDojo programme is playing a vital role in redressing the imbalances of the past. By targeting young minds from diverse backgrounds, particularly in underserved communities like Olievenhoutbosch, the programme is directly contributing to elevating the digital proficiency levels within the continent.
Accenture employees dedicated themselves to mentoring future tech leaders through the Hour of Code initiative. Each year, they pledge over 10,000 hours to coding tutorial sessions worldwide. It’s all part of the company’s commitment to supporting upcoming generations in developing essential STEM skills in computer science, technology, engineering, and maths.
Since its launch in 2016, CoderDojo has empowered more than 140 young individuals with valuable digital and coding skills. They have focused more on fostering these abilities by making learning a fun and creative experience in relaxed environments they call “dojos.”
The 2024’s intake is expected to start in February and will be face-to-face for the first time since the pandemic.
Q: Could you share some insights about your coding programme and why you find it essential?
A:Our primary goal is early exposure—to introduce youngsters to coding, digital skills, and design thinking from an early age. I firmly believe that talent is evenly distributed, but opportunities aren’t. So, coding shouldn’t only be accessible to a few lucky kids from privileged backgrounds. My belief is that even children in townships or informal settlements possess capabilities if given the chance.
Q:Can you explain the programme’s structure and recruitment process?
A:Our programme involves volunteers dedicating their time every Saturday to teach kids how to code. Their commitment is remarkable. What’s particularly exciting is that these volunteers resemble the children they’re teaching and also hail from the township. They serve as relatable role models, showing these young learners that achieving success is possible, regardless of where they come from.
Q: What’s the initial coding language you introduce to the kids?
A:We kick off our programme with Scratch, a simple coding language. Remember, many of these youngsters haven’t even used a computer before, so language was a perfect introduction for them. We’re incredibly proud of their progress over the years. Beyond just teaching concepts, we challenge them to develop apps that solve real issues in their community. It’s hands-on learning, allowing them to apply what they’ve picked up. Witnessing these young minds showcase their projects and share their newfound knowledge has been a truly rewarding experience. It proves that with opportunity and support, success knows no boundaries.
Today, we celebrate the graduation of these talented young minds from the CoderDojo programme, we are witnessing the shaping of our future leaders in technology. The need for digital literacy and skills development has never been more critical, especially here in Africa, and Accenture is committed to playing a pivotal role in driving this transformation.
Q: Did you consider candidates from outside Gauteng province?
A:Due to proximity, the programme operates solely in Olievenhout, outside Centurion. Our focus wasn’t specifically on children interested in technology. We understand that kids might not know what they don’t know yet.
Q: Can you share your perspective on how involving Accenture employees fits into your vision?
A: Involving our employees as mentors adds a practical dimension to this learning, ensuring that these young minds gain hands-on experience and insights into real-world applications of technology. This graduation event is more than just a celebration of learning but a beacon of hope and a strong statement of our dedication to nurturing STEM skills in the youth to create a tech-focused future in Africa driven by a digitally empowered generation.