125 Turkish And Syrian Children Came Together At A Hackathon In Şanlıurfa.

A daylong hackathon was held with the participation of 125 Turkish and Syrian children between the ages of 7-14 in Şanlıurfa within the scope of “Coding Tomorrow” project, which has been implemented with the cooperation of Vodafone Turkey Foundation and Habitat. Children who participated in the hackathon split up in teams to receive trainings on robotics and mobile apps, and enjoyed activities like mBot Football Contest and Line Follower Robot.

Vodafone Turkey Foundation’s “Coding Tomorrow” project is an important initiative in terms of raising a generation that is ready for the digitized future.

Vodafone Turkey Foundation held a day-long hackathon with the participation of 125 Turkish and Syrian children between 7-14, in Şanlıurfa, within the scope of “Coding Tomorrow” project, that have been implemented in cooperation with Habitat last year and included Syrian children since February, in an effort to pioneer social change. Children split up in teams to receive trainings on robotics and mobile apps, and had a good time with activities such as mBot Football Contest and Line Follower Robot at the hackathon, in which Director of Vodafone Group Foundation Andrew Dunnett, President of Vodafone Turkey Foundation Hasan Süel, and President of Habitat Association Sezai Hazır have attended. Syrian and Turkish children enjoyed thinking and creating together by means of coding, “the language of friendship”, while trying to create a new product in a limited time, on a given subject.

Andrew Dunnett: “We are working hard to provide equal opportunities in education”

Extensive information about “Coding Tomorrow” project and Vodafone Group Foundation’s approach to education was given in the press conference before the Hackathon. Andrew Dunnett, the Director of Vodafone Group Foundation, who stated that Vodafone Group Foundation operated in 27 countries worldwide, and that they invest 45 million GBP a year for social projects, said:

“As Vodafone Foundation, in line with our ‘Connecting For Good’ approach, we work hard to develop sustainable social programs utilizing the power of communication technologies for a better future. In this context, we carry out projects that provide equal opportunities in education. We regard Vodafone Turkey Foundation’s ‘Coding Tomorrow’ project as an important initiative in terms of raising a generation that is ready for the digitized future, and we support this project. According to our researches, tech-related jobs will increase by 20% by the year 2025. Job opportunities will expand especially for coding experts. In this sense, ‘Coding Tomorrow’ project opens the doors to a better future for both Turkish and Syrian children.”

Dunnett emphasized that 2,5 billion people have Internet access in developing countries and that this is an ever-growing number, and added:

“Connectivity allows for equal opportunities and democratization in education by making it possible to deliver higher quality for lower costs. Thanks to connectivity, an opportunity for a better future can be provided to all children whether they are in a refugee camp, or in a remote corner of Africa where no schools are available. According to ‘Connected Education’ report, by the year 2025, reaching over 85 million people and achieving an economic benefit of 7,3 billion dollars will be possible with the spread of digital education services in countries and markets in which Vodafone operates.”

Hasan Süel: “We want to give a silver lining to our children.”

Hasan Süel, the President of Vodafone Turkey Foundation, reminded that as Vodafone Turkey Foundation, they had left 10 years behind, and said:

“Coding courses for children constitute a significant portion of our recent social investments. We aim to raise a generation that not only uses technology, but also creates it, and we have come a long way thanks to ‘Coding Tomorrow’ project. Our project is featured in Vodafone’s ‘Connected Education’ report, cited as an example to whole world, and become a source of pride for us. Our 10-year-old participant Esra Elbuğra attracted a great deal of attention as she told how coding changed her life at the London launch of the report. We have taught coding to nearly 4000 children in 11 provinces so far. Our aim is to reach 10.000 children in 30 provinces by the end of 2017-18 financial year.”

Süel asserted that coding was a language of friendship and that they had expanded the trainings to include Syrian children, and noted:

“Children constitute more than half of 3,5 millions of Syrians that live in Turkey. These children, dubbed ‘the lost generation’, were forced to leave their country because of the war and have been financially and emotionally damaged. The biggest problem about Syrian children is the lack of education. Only 26% of the off-camp population receives education. As Vodafone Turkey Foundation, we want to give a silver lining to Syrian children, and take a step to brighten their future with our ‘Coding Tomorrow’ project. We are not lending a temporary helping hand to these children, but want to see their long-term reintegration into social life and see hope in their eyes for the future. We have reached nearly 680 Syrian children in Şanlıurfa and İstanbul so far. We will continue to support Syrian children by giving coding training.”

Sezai Hazır: “Most Syrian children have been introduced to a computer for the first time in this project”

Sezai Hazır, the President of Habitat Association mentioned that knowing how to code is as important as knowing how to read nowadays, and said:

“As Habitat Association, we have been working in the field of social transformation and information-oriented development for 20 years. We continue to provide training in ‘Coding Tomorrow’ project with Vodafone Turkey Foundation in order to carry out Turkey’s information-driven transformation through children. We work hard to develop children’s coding skills at a young age and to give them a point of view. We anticipate that the information-driven development in our country will accelerate with this transformation in children. That said, we also care about equal opportunities, and we offer training to Syrian children for them to have a bright future. Most Syrian children have been introduced to a computer for the first time in this project. They are closer to get the education that they had to leave, or to make their abandoned dreams come true. We have shared the dreams of Syrian children who were trained in İstanbul. It has been a distinct experience for our young Syrian volunteers either. We are happy to raise their awareness about volunteer work and contributing to society.”

More than 700 children have been reached through Hackathons

125 children participated in the Şanlıurfa hackathon, 80 of them being Syrian, and so the number of children who participated in Turkey’s biggest children hackathons that were held within the scope of “Coding Tomorrow” project since August 2016 has passed over 700.

Hackathons play an important role in complementing the coding courses of “Coding Tomorrow” project by giving children an opportunity to show what they have learned and to test themselves. Children code their innovative ideas in a limited time, in teams, yet in the same environment with each other, using tools like the popular DIY robot mBot, the programming environment Scratch which has a simple interface, and Makey Makey, which is an invention kit that turns almost any object into a touch pad. Games like mBot Football, Escape the Labyrinth, mBot Sumo Wrestling, Pop the Balloons of the Opponent, Saving the Dinosaur with mBots and mBot Dice Tournament are played in the hackathons. Every child gets a medal at the end of the hackathons.

10.000 children will be reached in 30 provinces

Children between 7-14 are trained in coding all around Turkey with “Coding Tomorrow” project that is carried out by Vodafone Turkey Foundation in cooperation with Habitat in an effort to raise coding awareness. Nearly 4.000 children in 11 provinces have received coding training so far, and the aim is to reach 10.000 children in 30 provinces by the end of 2017-18 financial year. Girls constituted 49% of the participants, while 51% of the participants were boys.

The provinces where the project is simultaneously implemented are as follows: İstanbul, Balıkesir, Kocaeli, Edirne, Bursa, Manisa, Afyon, Denizli, İzmir, Aydın, Antalya, Mersin, Adana, Samsun, Trabzon, Malatya, Rize, Şanlıurfa, Siirt, Mardin, Gaziantep, Kars, Erzurum, Elazığ, Erzincan, Ankara, Kayseri, Konya, Eskişehir, Sivas, Nicosia.

Arduino training is next

In “Coding Tomorrow” project, children receive theoretical and practical training in subjects like introduction to programming, app building, creating stories and games making with volunteering instructors. In our coding courses, we use Scratch, a basic coding program created for children by MIT, which is known as the best technical university in the world. Furthermore, there will be courses on Arduino, which is used in coding Internet of Things (IoT) apps. Arduino shortens the distance between children’s dreams and reality by shedding light on the interiors of electronic devices that are thought to be an unknown black box. Arduino is a user-friendly open source hardware that is designed for people with no technical expertise. It allows children to build their own thermometers, or remote control cars. Following the Arduino training, a national camp will be held, and successful students will be introduced to major coding platforms abroad.

Syrian children have been included

As of February, Syrian children have been included in “Coding Tomorrow” project. Nearly 680 Syrian children have been reached in Şanlıurfa and İstanbul so far through the training, which was initiated with the belief that coding is a language of friendship. 62% of the children who received training in coding in Şanlıurfa were girls, while 38% of them were boys. In Syrian children’s training, Arabic version of the Scratch coding program is used, and Arabic-speaking instructors are assigned. 25 volunteering instructors carried out the training, as 10 Syrian volunteers took part in the project in Şanlıurfa.

“Coding Tomorrow” set an example to the world

“Coding Tomorrow” is featured in Vodafone Group’s “Connected Education” report, and has set an example to the world in digital literacy with its sustainable education model. The “Connected Education” report was announced in London in June, and presented the initiatives led by Vodafone in an effort to facilitate digitalization in education across the world. The report covers 14 initiatives under 4 main themes: “Access to Online Education Platforms/Apps”; “Digital Literacy Education”; “Educating the Educators”; and “Education In Refugee Camps”. With the spread of digital education initiatives mentioned in the “Connected Education” report in countries and markets in which Vodafone operates, it will be possible to reach more than 85 million people, and to achieve an economic benefit of 7,3 billion dollars per year, by 2025.

Coding is spreading

As the “language” of the digital world, coding improves children’s creativity and teach them innovative thinking. According to OECD’s last report on digital economy, two out of every three children will have jobs that are unknown to us today. Therefore, children are taught coding, just as they are taught math. Coding is in the primary school curricula in a lot of EU countries. Turkey also plans to include coding into curriculum from the 1st grade to the 12th.

Geri Kapat
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