Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Displaced children in Nigeria learn coding at mobile laboratory

Nigeria's internal conflicts have displaced nearly 2 million people, according to the United Nations, with 60 percent of them being children. A program in the Nigerian capital is trying to teach internally displaced children technology skills, including computer coding, with a mobile laboratory.

Twelve-year-old Michael Oladimeji fled with his family from Nigeria’s Borno State two years ago to escape Boko Haram terrorist attacks.

Over 10,000 people are living in camps in Abuja struggling for food, water, health care and education.

But Oladimeji was lucky - he became one of 100 students his age learning computer coding and animation at a mobile laboratory. The tech curriculum includes writing code with a program known as Scratch.

"At home I used to play with my daddy's phone but it's not enough for me to do my coding and to do my Scratch. So since we started this program, I've got the chance to do Scratch and make cartoons,” Oladimeji said.

Children like Oladimeji make up the majority of Nigeria's 1.8 million displaced people.

But Nigeria's Civic Innovation Lab – a technology hub - runs the initiative, which is shaping children's futures, according to program facilitator Angu Kingsley.

"Judging from where they came from, they have little knowledge about computers and education generally. So what we're trying to do is improve on what they already have, the knowledge they already have and build on it,” Kingsley said.

While only a hundred or so displaced kids have benefited so far, the project hopes to expand – if it can secure funding, says program head Fanto Foday.

"We only have few tablets and few computers so we've been having difficulties in the areas of giving assignment because when we leave we have to take the equipment, although the truck is there, they have access to the lab but they don't really have access to the gadgets,” Foday said.

But for conflict-displaced students like Oladimeji, the chance to learn computer coding could be a game-changer.


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