100-day adventure into creative technology in Sub-Saharan Africa

January 20, 2017

During spring 2017 we will visit 10 African countries together with CodeBus Africa and organize creative coding workshops for local youth!

At the core of Mehackit has always been the empowerment of the youth. We teach programming through hardware, art and music and we love to bring our fun and creative approach to as many youngsters as possible. At the moment Mehackit is a growing partner of Nordic high schools but our long-term target is to help high schools on a global scale.

In October 2016 we educated 10 students from Aalto University with the Mehackit programming materials and now these amazing students are able to instruct the workshops in Africa. We will also train more instructors in every country in order to make it possible to continue learning with Mehackit open-source curriculum.

Now as the trip is getting closer, we sat down with Irena Bakić, the project lead for CodeBus Africa to discuss what the project is all about.

Irena, what is the major goal of CodeBus Africa?

CodeBus aims to support equal opportunities for youth, especially girls, in technology by giving them an opportunity to explore programming through music, creativity and self-expression. Programming is often perceived as a solitary world, somehow cold and detached from real-life applications that would be useful or enjoyable on a personal level, and we hope to change these associations.

The first steps into learning programming can be taken together with friends, and they can be a lot of fun. The first experience should be rewarding and it should ensure that the student feels positive about learning. Mehackit has showed us that for example music as a fairly universal language offers a great medium for this.

Another important goal of CodeBus is to promote sustainable partnerships between Finnish and African innovators in education and technology during the centenary year and well beyond. The project leans strongly on the Finland 100 centenary celebration theme “Together”, and we look forward to mutual learning and co-creative efforts both during and after the journey.

How did the idea of CodeBus Africa come to life?

The idea was initiated in early 2016 by Finnish embassies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The embassies wanted to take part in the celebration of Finland’s 100th year of independence in 2017 with a project that would make the most of the themes Finland is proud of: education, equality, creativity and technology. That’s when the idea of a moving bus providing coding workshops for youth surfaced

The discussions began on the Finnish side with several interested parties in spring 2016 and Aalto Global Impact from Aalto University took over the coordination in early autumn. Mehackit was involved from the beginning as the expert on creative technology education, and they would later come to provide the workshop concept and curriculum for the project.

What do you especially love about the countries the CodeBus is going to visit?

We have fantastic partners in every country and we admire the work the local technology hubs, entrepreneurs and youth organizations have been doing in their respective communities. Especially the commitment to enhance girls’ tech education is admirable. All in all the motivation levels are high and we look forward to collaborating with everyone.

What are you hoping to accomplish during the journey?

We hope to increase awareness of creative programming and gender equality in technology both in Finland and the ten African countries – all the while bringing positive visibility to the centenary of Finland’s independence and celebrating the old and new connections between African and Finnish people.

Codebus Africa will organize workshops in Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and South-Africa. We at Mehackit are really looking forward to showing our creative pedagogy, learning materials and platforms for local organisations. 

If you have any questions regarding the trip, please do not hesitate to contact hello@mehackit.org

You can follow CodeBus Africa and the amazing journey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!