Coding is considered an emerging unspoken language that has the power to unify people across different walks of life and open doors to opportunities. In the spirit of Youth Month, Microsoft and Sci-Bono Discovery Centre teamed up to host a free three-day “Week of Code” coding workshop, under the global Hour of Code intitative, with the aim introducing school kids and post matriculants to the world of coding and help them discover the wealth of opportunities that are available for them in the sector.

Two sessions were held every morning and afternoon between Wednesday the 4th to Friday the 5th June. We stuck our head around the door on the Thursday to see how it was going.

“As part of Hour of Code, we’re here to promote computer science as part of digital literacy”, says Victor Ngubeni, the director of Week of Code. “It’s more of an awareness campaign for the students to show them there are freely available coding sources available to them, such as the ones Microsoft offers.We chose to work with Sci-Bono because it has many programmes for young people and these kids here are already familiar with the centre.”

We were happy to see a familiar face in the room when we arrived and saw Microsoft’s Lebogang Madise, who often gives talks and workshops for youth around the country, as the workshop host for the day. The room was filled with a mix of students from as young as seven all the way up to 24, all eager to find out exactly what this “coding” thing was all about.

20140610_143524Each session was broken down into segments including an introduction to programming using a browser based tool on Code.org and Visual Studio. Lebogang really has a knack for speaking to young people on their level and opening their minds up to the world of coding. During the session, she talked them through an explanation of coding, why it was so important and how it could benefit ordinary South African youth like themselves. 

Although the Week of Code was launched first in Sci-Bono, there are plans to partner with many schools and organisations later this year and expand nationwide and reach many other students by training school teachers and adults at various Vodacom centres in the nine provinces to teach coding skills to students at their schools.

“We are hoping to get the word out there and get more and more students involved, so we’re planning to work with the Department of Comunications and the Vodacom centres to reach schools especially in under privileged areas” Victor adds.

At the end of the Week of Code, each student walked away not only with a certificate showing they had taken part in the Week of Code, but with the keys to the new door of opportunity that had been placed before them.