» Qatar youngest mobile apps developers rewarded at YouthMobile competition
14.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Doha

Qatar youngest mobile apps developers rewarded at YouthMobile competition


30 students from eight schools gathered at the Hamad bin Khalifa University Research Complex on 12 May 2018 to take part in the YouthMobile Qatar competition, a global initiative launched by UNESCO to empower youth to develop mobile apps for the Sustainable Development Goals and implemented for the first time in Qatar. The YouthMobile Qatar project is a joint initiative by Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), Arab Women in Computing Qatar and UNESCO Office for the Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen.

The students received a nine-week intensive training on mobile app programming, coding, innovation and entrepreneurship from computer scientists, teachers and coding experts, and were invited to present the mobile apps they created to a large audience and judges. The theme of the competition was “Helping My School” and its objective is to empower students to find local solutions to the problems they face in schools through mobile technology.

Students from grade eight and seven were tasked with using App Inventor, an open-source web application developed by MIT Media Lab, to design and build mobile apps that could positively improve their school environment and educational experience. Aged 11 to 14, they developed mobile apps to help their peers complete their homework, report incidents and injuries in schools, organize class schedules, help students with disabilities communicate with others, collect and share class notes, and manage the distribution of meals in school cafeteria.

Participating schools included Edison International Academy, Al Bayan Preparatory School for Girls, Al Maha Academy for Girls, Lycee Voltaire, American School of Doha, International School of Choueifat, ACS International School and International School of London.

Opening the competition, Anna Paolini, UNESCO Representative to the GCC and Yemen, expressed her enthusiasm to see a large number of projects in Qatar dedicated to developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship through technology for young people in the country. She also thanked the students, mentors, parents and teachers for their commitment to the project.

Dr. Eman Fituri, Director of Educational Initiatives at QCRI: “Being the lead computing research institute in Qatar, QCRI highly values the importance of getting the youth in Qatar involved in the innovation process from an early age, as they are the ones who will fill the pipeline, and lead technology innovation in the future. Working closely with those young innovators over the past nine weeks has been a truly rewarding experience, and we look forward to scaling this excellent program up in the future.”

Asmae Tabet, a member of Arab Women in Computing Qatar and one of the main mentors of the project, commented that delivering such skills sets these students apart from their peers because they can materialize their ideas, refine it and possibly launch it on a large scale, and bring another useful tool to the world.

Dr Hamda Al Sulaiti, Secretary General of Qatar National Commission to UNESCO, emphasized the role young people can play in providing solutions to society’s challenges by using their mobiles phones in a constructive and positive way and contributing to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 4 which focuses on providing inclusive and quality education to all.

13 judges from key education and tech institutions in Qatar, including the Education Development Institute, Ooredoo, Texas A&M University, Qatar National Research Fund and Arab Women in Computing assessed the inventions of the 16 teams of students.

After students pitched their ideas and demonstrated the functionalities of their mobile apps to the judges, the winners of the competition were announced. Mohamed Shikfa, from Lycee Voltaire, won the first prize for his app “My School Assistant” which helps students organize their weekly class schedule and mutes their phone when they enter class. Sara Al Madeed, from Al Maha Academy, came second with her app “Brainstorm” which enables anonymous messaging between students and teachers, including visually impaired students and teachers, to share and receive feedback.  Omar Abdallah and Rami Ayeche, from American School of Doha, won the third place as well as the Audience Choice Award with their app “Organize A+” which reminds students about their homework and provides easy access to students’ notes using a secure cloud storage database.

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The video of the YouthMobile Qatar trainings can be found here.

Photo of the YouthMobile Qatar competition can be found here.

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