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Making a Difference: Free Coding Lessons for Teens at Sparkplug

Sparkplug, a social enterprise designed to fix education with software, is now offering free coding lessons to Nigerian teenagers, which includes free access to laptops.

“There is a general belief that learning how to code is difficult,” Sparkplug founder Olumide Adewumi told Connect Nigeria. “We want to break those barriers and democratize software engineering.”

Mr. Adewumi, who is also the Editor-in-Chief and Chief Web Developer at Gidilounge, strongly believes that education is a key ingredient when it comes to empowerment and sustainability. To this end, Sparkplug has created a curriculum consisting of a set of publicly available, open source learning materials curated to teach people how to write code. “The content is freely available on the internet, we want to add value by getting rid of the noise around learning how to code and curating what we think is useful to learn,” he explains.

This programme is not for just any young person, however. Enthusiasm and passion for learning are essential. “To be a sparkplug student, you need to be passionate about learning. Prospective students will be interviewed before getting accepted to the program. We are still at an early stage with the process so before we fling the doors open for everyone, we want to validate our approach by working with students that are excited about technology and how to wield it to solve problems around you,” he says.

The programme is currently open only to teenagers, but older coding enthusiasts need not despair.  “The age restriction is temporary, we plan to involve a wider age bracket. A soft launch is better for us to track feedback and prepare properly for the demand.”

At Sparkplug, you won’t find the regular teacher and classroom. Learning is unsupervised, as the team is convinced that easy access to the right content, coupled with the passion to learn, is a more effective combination. “Unsupervised learning means we give you the content to learn at your own pace and the mentors provide guidance to steer you in the right direction. We don’t think we can fix the demand to learn in Nigerian by building schools; leveraging technology seems to be a more scalable and efficient approach.”

Clearly, this project requires more than just a few hands. “Supporting Sparkplug is an integral part of our growth strategy. We need mentors and volunteers to be a part of this. Fixing education in Nigeria has to be a collective effort.”

Interested teens can apply at the Sparkplug website. If you’d like to give a laptop, or you’re a software developer who would like to volunteer by donating time as a mentor, please visit the site or tweet @olumide.

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Joy Ehonwa

Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com

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