Organisation teaches children to code

Being part of the high-paying digital economy has never looked as lucrative to high school leavers as it does today.

Computer coding is the expertise of the future; many researchers have called it the 21st century skill with a promise of high paying job opportunities. However, enrolling into a coding course in South Africa has its challenges: courses are costly, entry requirements are high and places are often limited.

A local NGO is solving this problem and is calling for applications for their next course intake, which will be taking place in Landowne. Seeing the need for accessible coding courses, Cape Town-based NGO, Salesian Life Choices, launched a coding academy last year, which offers a one-year full-time coding course.

The course is divided into six months of classroom learning, followed by, six-month paid internship.

Salesian Life Choices manager director Sofia Neves said the organisation worked with young people from the Cape Flats and its mission was to tackle inequality.

“Last year, we decided that we would expand our youth services to include vocational training, as we believe it is imperative to support young people who are seeking a route into the workplace as an alternative to going to university.”

Life Choices Academy facilitator Candice Amon said going into the IT industry had been a “no-brainer” and that had led to a partnership with “industry heavyweight” CodeSpace. “They are experienced in coding training, and have strong connections in the industry,” said Ms Amon.

Having successfully completed the pilot launch of the academy, the organisation is seeing its first cohort leaving for internships.

Megan Meyer, 24, of Primrose Park, said the training gave her a chance at a different life.

“I could not study further after school because money was a problem at home. When I joined the academy, I was saving money to study part-time. The course has allowed me to turn my interest into something tangible.”

The course was challenging, she said, but also opened “many doors”.

“I feel motivated about my future because I can go into web designing, graphic designing, game developing, consulting – the options are endless. We just finished the interviews for our paid internship and I received three offers from different companies. I could only find minor jobs six months ago.”

Lonwabo Mdazuka, 21, of Gugulethu, said: “When I found out about the academy I was job hunting, I would survive by selling jackets in my community. One of the first things I learned in the academy was to reflect on who I am. We received self-development training every week besides coding. This affected me in a positive way and I regained a renewed energy for life. I will be starting my internship in February.”

Ms Amon said the academy had no upfront tuition fee and the course fees of R35 000 were only payable if participants landed a job in the industry, and then they could be paid off over three to five years.

Salesian Life Choices is planning to train 120 youth in 2018. Applications for the first two coding courses (40 students) are open until the Sunday February 18. Visit www.lifechoices.co.za/academy/coding to complete an application. Candidates must be between 18 and 25 years of age. For details, contact Nurahn Ryklief at 021 696 4167/57, 083 300 9755 or nurahn.lifechoices@gmail.com