Peacebuilding and Literacy through Tech Innovation Bootcamp for South Sudan Youth
UNESCO in partnership with UNDP and WEB4ALL, is running a “Peacebuilding and Literacy through Tech Innovation Bootcamp” for sixteen students from the University of Juba. The Bootcamp, organized in the framework of UNESCO’s YouthMobile Initiative, is scheduled to run from 24-28 October 2016 at Regency Hotel in Juba, South Sudan.
The boot camp focuses on developing two mobile applications aiming at educating South Sudanese youth on the process of building a peaceful and literate nation and to encourage the culture of a peaceful co-existence. The two mobile apps are the PeaceApp and the LiteracyApp.
South Sudan has been engrossed in conflict at different periods in its history. Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has experienced different conflicts at different levels. These conflicts include cattle raiding, community revenge killings, cross border conflicts between different armed groups. And from December 2013, the country is gripped in an atrocious civil war.
Guided by mobile apps experts from WEB4ALL (Kenya), and UNDP peacebuilding specialists, Bootcamp participants will develop a PeaceApp that will explain different terms relating to conflict, violence and its impact. This App will also outline the peacebuilding process with a focus on the role of an ordinary citizen (Mwathinin) in the national peace building agenda; the PeaceApp will offer practical steps in pursuing an end to violence through peace and reconciliation. The benefits of sharing peace and reconciliation messages and of making personal commitments to peace building process will be explained on the PeaceApp.
South Sudan’s literacy indicators remain among the worst in the world, despite increases in school enrolment achieved over the past decade. Low rates of primary school completion and high gender, geographic and wealth disparities, pose enormous challenges to the development of South Sudan.
In view of the challenges related to South Sudan's context, the rationale behind the Literacy APP is to enable the youth to increase their level of literacy across the country by encouraging them to enrol in the UNESCO Literacy Course that will be contained in the LiteracyApp.
The LiteracyApp is intended to be a creative and motivational tool for youth and adults to learn high quality, substantial and gender sensitive literacy content. The development of this App involves immense challenges that come with pioneering such an initiative; even after completing the App there will be a need for constant and continued improvement to realize the vision of a literate South Sudan.
Both the #PeaceApp and #LiteracyApp will soon be available for download at www.sspeaceapp.org and can also be shared via Bluetooth. The website will be officially launched on 15 November 2016.
The Bootcamp was officially opened by Hon. Justin Aler De Mayen, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Postal Services. “On behalf of the Government of South Sudan, I wish to convey our great appreciation and sincerest congratulation to all partners who made it possible to organise the Bootcamp for the students. The youth are the backbone of South Sudan, and for our country to prosper, we need committed and innovative youth. The youth who can come up with good technologies to facilitate sustainable development in South Sudan,” Hon. De Mayen said.
The Undersecretary also urged the youth to use the skills they will get from the bootcamp to counter online hate speeches and be good ambassadors of peace and literacy in South Sudan.
Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Dr. Awol Endris, Officer-In-Charge of UNESCO Juba Office, said the Bootcamp is both timely and critical. He said UNESCO is very happy to partner with UNDP, WEB4ALL, Zain and the University of Juba to support South Sudan youth unleash their innovation skills and talent and contribute to a peaceful and literate nation. “UNESCO remains committed to support the government and people of South Sudan to address humanitarian and development challenges within the organization’s mandated areas of expertise in Education, Culture, Science and Communication and Information,” Dr Awol emphasised.
UNDP remarks were delivered by Ms. Judy Wakahiu, UNDP Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) project manager. “At UNDP, we believe that a peaceful South Sudan cannot be achieved without mobilising young people for a good cause. When youth are enabled to fulfil their potential, they have the power to transform their communities, build bridges across generations, and help promote lasting peace”, she said. She also thanked UNESCO for the fruitful partnership it has with UNDP. This is a great example of how the UN is working together and delivering as one to achieve better results in South Sudan, stressed Ms. Wakahiu.
Furthermore, Nelson Kwaje, WEB4ALL team leader, said his organisation believes that youth empowerment is vital for the prosperity of a nation, and mobile technology can facilitate such inclusive development.
This Bootcamp is the follow up to a series of previous UNESCO YouthMobile workshops which have involved some 43 young South Sudanese students since 2014 on mobile Apps development. Past trainings were facilitated by trainers from the Dev School, a Nairobi based software development training program, run by a team of enthusiastic youth with the aim to give every young person in Africa the opportunity to learn how to code. Zain South Sudan, a mobile telecommunications company, provided Android mobile phones with prepaid data access, and contributed as well to raise awareness about this initiative.
While the previous workshops’ curriculum were based on MIT App Inventor, the Bootcamp participants are receiving advanced training on Android App development using Android Studio - an official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android App development.
Dennis Vuciri, one of the participants who attended previous trainings, is looking forward to gain more skills from the Bootcamp. “It was my privilege to attend the past trainings which were full of new things and experience in the field of technology. Before, I have been hearing about mobile applications, and seen them installed on different mobile phones and tablets, but did not have that chance to involve myself in their development, or even tried to imagine how it was being done. But today, I am happy to testify to the app developers’ world that, the first and second training which were held in 2014/15 gave me the knowledge and experience to develop the Android apps of my choice, to solve some of the problems in my country.” said Vuciri.
Another student is Poni Wani Sule, a female graduate student of Juba University who participated in the previous UNESCO YouthMobile training. The last two trainings were very useful in many areas such as education, communication, etc. [MIT App Inventor] is a very easy way to create apps, but since we finished that, I didn't continue developing apps because of heavy workload in my studies. But now I'm willing to improve the app developed by my group, called "South Sudan map puzzle".
Wani Sule would like to connect with other App developers from all over the world. “YouthMobile app was the only training I took; I didn't attend any other training of ICT. I have shared my experience with my other colleagues that didn't attend the training. I would like to participate in different online platforms to share my experience with other app developers worldwide, and gain more experience and share ideas on how to create more useful apps.”
Through its global YouthMobile Initiative, UNESCO and its partners strive to provide young people with high-level skills and confidence to develop, promote and sell locally relevant mobile apps that solve issues of sustainable development and provide employment.
UNESCO YouthMobile recently proudly supported the 2nd Africa Code Week, which took place from 15-22 October 2016 in 30 African countries.
UNESCO YouthMobile will participate at the upcoming AFRICACOM, 14-17 November, Cape Town, South Africa. The event gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem.
Ms. Mwatile Ndinoshiho
Communication and Information Sector
UNESCO Office in South Sudan
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