MAKING coding more accessible to young people across Africa, has taken on an even more inclusive role with a new project, piloted in Gqeberha.
Tangible Africa, a coding movement, has partnered with the Bona uBuntu Programme, to bring the magic of coding to visually impaired and blind children from Nelson Mandela Bay.
Thousands of primary and high school learners on the continent have, since 2017, been introduced by Tangible Africa to coding concepts, through coding app games which are played without the use of computers.
All that is needed to play these offline coding games spearheaded by Tangible Africa, an engagement project of Nelson Mandela University computing sciences department and the Leva Foundation, is a smart phone, coding kit and eager learners, said Jackson Tshabalala, operations manager at the Leva Foundation. And now, Tangible Africa is taking it a step further to reach visually impaired and blind learners who have never been exposed to coding.
“This partnership is called Bona Africa, coding for VIPs. The name is significant because we want to show Africa that we can develop home-grown solutions for our own people, to promote digital inclusivity in Africa.
“Many people are disconnected from the digital economy, especially visually impaired people, and we want to help reduce this with digital education,” said Tshabalala.
Great reception during pilot games
The non-profit programme, Bona uBuntu in Gqeberha, has plenty of eager learners, who, in July, were excited to be introduced to the world of coding for the first time. “Our prototypes are basic for now, but we would love to design tools specifically for the blind and visually impaired children to play the games, including adapting our existing apps or developing a specialised app,” said Tshabalala.
For now, the coding games (downloadable as TANKS, RANGERS and BOATS Apps on all platforms) are introduced at afterschool activities for Grade 5, 6 and 7 children who attend the Bona uBuntu Programme.
Robyn Fick, Bona uBuntu programme coordinator, welcomed the coding classes and collaboration with Tangible Africa. “Our focus is on inclusivity and accessibility for blind and visually impaired children, so we are very excited about the future opportunities coding can offer our children.”
Crowd-funding to grow the project
As the project is a collaboration between non-profit organisations, fund-raising has started for the Bona Africa project to bring coding to visually impaired learners across Africa, starting in Gqeberha.
“We have a dedicated crowd-funding page for Bona Africa so anyone who would like to make a difference – from individuals to corporates – can support us. We also have a team of cyclists who were the first to come on board to support this cause,” said Tshabalala.
On September 25, a group of Nelson Mandela Bay cyclists, headed by Louise Greyling, will be racing one of the most challenging mountain bike races in the Eastern Cape, known as the Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge, to raise funds for Bona Africa.
To find out more about Tangible Africa, contact Prof Jean Greyling at [email protected] or Jackson Tshabalala at [email protected] Bona Africa’s fundraising page is: www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/Bona-Africa
– ISSUED BY TANGIBLE AFRICA