Microsoft and ACWICT partner to train their children code

The African Centre for Women Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT) in partnership with Microsoft Corporation have for years championed coding for employability initiatives aimed at promoting young people’s interest in learning how technology works so that they can pursue careers in computer science related fields. Having carried out successful initiatives, both organizations felt the need to give back to their dedicated staff members by introducing their children into the tech savvy field through conducting an annual ‘kids code event’. This way even as they work on equipping others with IT skills, their children are also reached with the hope of having them follow in their footsteps. The event was held at ACWICT Headquarters offices in Kileleshwa on the 16th October 2016.

Kids code event                                                  

The venue was cordial and beautifully adorned with traditional Christmas decorations, plenty of balloons and colorful posters that electrified the coding mood. One could also not fail to notice the neat and well-arranged computer labs with screens showing the code.org website in anticipation for the training. Parents also faithfully kept their end of the bargain by bring in their children in good time. Upon arrival the kids were awarded t-shirts brandished with the code and partner logos at the front and the slogan ‘I Speak Code’ at the back.

In no time, the venue was filled with joyous faces as the children began to familiarize themselves with the environment and one another while taking breakfast.

After the sumptuous breakfast, Ms. Constantine Obuya, Executive Director ACWICT, delivered the opening remarks. She briefed the parents on the purpose of the training and also applauded the partnership that has brought on board young children whom through will be encouraged to take up careers in computer science.

“We are very excited that our partnership has come to this level where it is also giving us the chance to mentor these young ones to be able to follow in the roots that we followed. We hope that at the end of all these, even as you go through your high school and primary education, we shall be able to get some of you taking up careers in computer science,” she said.

She also mentioned the increase in the number of children which shows that a majority of them are already developing interest in coding and she assured them that the journey that they have just began provides them with an opportunity to develop mobile app solutions to everyday challenges.

Mr. Alex Nyingi Microsoft East and Southern Africa, Corporate Social Investment Manager also addressed the group. He greatly encouraged the trainees to make friends and have fun while they code. He also said that in addition to having the children play computer games, it would be a good idea for them to learn how to create their own.

“I believe all of us have ever used a mobile phone, a computer or probably have been in the internet. And you have played different computer games as well. What we want you to do today is learn how to create your own games through coding,” said Mr. Nyingi.

Thereafter the trainees were divided into age groups where the different groups tackled coding using applications that best suited them. Well, as the old adage goes ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, there were a few breaks especially for the young ones to rejuvenate. Also there were plenty of fun activities to indulge in. For those who found the bouncing castle too petite were welcomed to play Dance Central – Xbox 360.

The game – Dance Central – Xbox 360 – was also an exciting and unique method of coding because as one mimics the dancers on the screen they learn to debug.

Everyone had something new to learn and what was more important was for them to cultivate an interest in coding even when they are on their own and also encourage their friends to try an hour of code.

In the afternoon there was a talk on internet security, to sensitize the children to practice healthy behaviors while online. Thereafter the team broke for the closing ceremony and a cake cutting session.

It was a successful day, and the children really enjoyed themselves with one Kerigo saying, “I learnt how to code and I loved it.”

Conclusion

Introducing our children to modern technology helps in nurturing highly enthusiastic and innovative problem solvers as they grow up. The annual kids code event is a wonderful initiative which will surely reap massive benefits in the future.