Saturday, September 15, 2012

Teaching Web Development in Africa

Note: This is a guest post from Jack Bates, who emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me about something awesome he's been doing with my teaching materials in Africa. I invited him to do a guest post here.

For the past year, I've been tutoring HTML and web development to youth in Africa, and it's been both challenging and fun. Now, our youth village is recruiting someone to contribute more talent to the village next year, and I'm hoping to spread word of this opportunity via this blog post by sharing my experience in the role.

I used the resources that Pamela Fox helpfully compiled at to mentor twelve students who all built their own websites, such as websites for their karate club, fashion club, and traditional dance troupe. One student made a website to teach others about the hardware components of computers, and another website discussing the merits of a common currency in the East African Community. The two most advanced students began programming their own computer game to help others practice touch typing, and it allows players to compete across the network with WebSockets.

The youth village and the country are both totally committed to technology. Some of the other things I did this year are coordinate a donation of books from O'Reilly Media, improve internet access with open source tools, and figure out wireless and AC electrical problems. Plus, I installed the first solar heated plumbing in the village, on the roof of my staff house. During the school vacations, I got to travel to Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The village is in rural Africa, and there's a passion fruit vine outside my window.

I work with four permanent Rwandan computer staff who are better teachers than I'll ever be. Some of the kids are afraid of computers when they first get to the village, but I've watched these teachers encourage them, and now a girl who was afraid before is one of the leading computer students. Sadly there are still fewer girls than boys who are passionate about computers.

This position is also part of a cohort of about ten international volunteers, with different roles and responsibilities. If this year is an example, they are highly talented and interesting people.

I was enthusiastic about doing this because it took me a long time to learn to code, and looking back, many lessons could have been way easier. I think tutoring others is the best way to recover that investment. Admittedly, the hours are long (sometimes I think Rwanda is the Japan of Africa, with its insane work ethic and dense population), and there are plenty of frustrations and contradictions, but overall, it is a sincere, kind, and optimistic country.

It would be awesome to have someone who is really excellent with web technology in the village next year! If interested, check out the position description and email with any questions.

This site is not affiliated with or sponsored by the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village nor has Agahozo-Shalom approved, reviewed or confirmed any of the data and information provided herein.

No comments: