6 September 2016
Somewhere in Africa, a group of students are currently working on inventions that will change the continent digitally.
The project is being undertaken by a group of students in Senegal who are being taken through an after-school programme to learn how technology can be used to effect positive changes about their environment.
The organiser of the “after-school” programme, Goethe Institute in Partnership with mJangale, a Senegalese company, wants students to make use of the holiday period to develop mobile apps that will focus on environmental issues in the format of their choice – such as a game, quiz or a platform to look up potentially unfamiliar terms, such as “endangered species”.
Leading the charge is an 18-year-old student, Marième Seye. She has developed an app called “Weer Weelde” meaning “a healthy planet for a healthy life”.
With the aid of MIT app inventor – a drag-and-drop tool allowing users to create a basic phone app, the students were presented with the option of choosing between four pictures which represent activities. From the options, a particular student picks the pictures that represent the most positive contribution to the planet and work on it.
Since all pictures appear with captions explaining the dangers and benefits linked to the activities, it becomes easy with the aid of the MIT app inventor for the students to think of possible solutions by developing apps.
The co-founder of mJangale and professor of computer science at Pace University in New York, Christelle Scharff, take the students through the processes while the students follow her every click on a computer screen projected on the wall.
The Android apps will be made available on Google Play, where they can be downloaded for free.
The African continent has been slow to adopt digital technologies in education when compared to other tech-savvy western nations.
The programme in Senegal will not only broaden the students’ horizon, it will equally prepare them better for the much competitive job market.
Author: Timilehin Boyinde
Oluwatimilehin Boyinde is a research writer and a social media strategist. A public affairs analyst, he writes about history, politics, sports, life matters and technology. He is passionate about happenings in Local and international political arenas. He is an avid Manchester United fan and an unapologetic Nigerian.