UNESCO’s YouthMobile trainings show the potential of youth in Mozambique: over 200 students acquired essential IT skills to become the next generation of tech innovators in the digital age.
The UNESCO YouthMobile project deployed in Mozambique aimed to empower the next generation with the skills they need to become creative actors and leaders in our increasingly digital societies. During the course, students learned to design, develop and implement digital solutions adressing local challenges. By the end of the 4-months programme, students had developed over 50 mobile phone application prototypes that offered concrete solutions fitting the local context. The training was open to students who had little to no previous experience in mobile applications development. They were trained in programming languages such as Java and computer programming tools, such as Android studio.
To give a few examples, the application “Academic Library” creates a registry of relevant academic material, organized to dovetail student’s need. The registry also contains modules that specifically support open distant learning. The application “Plus Plus” rests upon the concept of gamification of learning, and aims at teaching young students mathematical concepts through a game. The authors of the app highlight the importance of using technology to stimulate creativity and curiosity, and not to see it as an end in itself. Another application called “Smart Shop” has the goal to create an online participatory market.
One of the key achievements of the training, however, consists in the over 45% participation rate of girls and young women, contributing to reversing negative gender norms within the IT field.
Beside programming skills, the training also stressed the importance of complementary skills, such as design thinking and communication skills. The project was supported by UNESCO-Korean Funds In Trust “ICT Transforming Education in Africa” project and through the implementing expertise of Maluana Park of Science and Technology. Several important stakeholders and partners joined strengths to support the exercise. In particular, one of the cellular operators in the country – Vodacom – contributed to the activity with prizes for the youth teams that developed the best prototypes.
On Saturday 15 June, 2019, the closing ceremony of the project took place at Maluana Park of Science and Technology in Maputo. The event was notably attended by H.E. the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Vocational Training. In his intervention, the UNESCO Representative and Head of UNESCO Office in Mozambique, Mr. Paul Gomis, highlighted the importance of the training, congratulated and encouraged the students, facilitators and parents for the efforts made to achieve the outstanding results, considering the student´s social background and their initial level of ICT competencies.
A poll circulated to a representative sample of students at the end of the training reported almost 75% rate of satisfaction. A similar percentage of students reported that they perceived the trainings as important for future career development. Further, students were also involved in the parallel event Africa Code Week (https://africacodeweek.org/) which took place in October 2018 and is also supported by UNESCO’s YouthMobile.
The UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative was launched in 2014 and it has deployed projects worldwide. It aims at empowering students with the confidence and skills they deserve to be creative actors in the digital age. By providing them with both programming skills and soft skills, UNESCO YouthMobile strives to enable them with actionable knowledge to solve local issues and contribute to the vision set by the Sustainable Development Goals.