Innovating the future with MENACodes: The regions first virtual digital literacy program

Innovating the future with MENACodes: The regions first virtual digital literacy program
03 Oct 2022
Innovating the future with MENACodes: The regions first virtual digital literacy program

Over the past summer, MENACatalyst Sweden launched its latest edition of MENACodes to a cohort of 120 young enterprising students across the MENA region. Founded in early 2021, MC Sweden was established with the vision to forge a collaborative ecosystem and gateway for emerging enterprises in Sweden and the MENA region to access new networks of support, sustainably scale to targeted markets, and promote impactful cross-border partnerships.

MC’s flagship youth digital literacy program was established in early 2019 with the vision to introduce a new generation of youth to the power of coding and innovation. While MENA’s youth literacy rates increase, the quality of education remains outdated and doesn’t prepare youth with the skills needed to compete for in demand jobs in the digital world. Our program addresses this and helps improve youths’ digital literacy and increase their economic/employment opportunities by teaching them the skills dominating the latest industry development. Since its inception, MC has become an effective member of UK based Code Club and Raspberry Pi Foundation to provide young learners with world class curricula and learning opportunities.

MC Sweden recognizes that to achieve these long-term goals, cross-regional coordinated efforts to cultivate the vast learning potential of the region’s youth is needed now more than ever. To this end, via MENACodes, MC Sweden is committed to providing a platform for the region’s youth to acquire the most in demand 21st century STEM skills needed to embrace innovation, entrepreneurship, and social change on a local, regional, and even global level.

The highly sought-after cross-border virtual coding and entrepreneurship program is the first of its kind in the MENA region. Integrating the latest in digital skills, entrepreneurship, and mentorship, MENACodes promotes teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving, creativity, and innovation amongst the young learners to become tomorrow’s innovators today.

From Yemen to Syria, Libya to Egypt, and Jordan to Palestine, MENACodes received over a thousand applications from aspiring youth across the region. However, only 120 prospective participants were selected to take part in the highly sought-after coding and entrepreneurship summer camp. These impressive numbers break down to 44 percent participation of girls, indicating the interest and passion students of all ages and all walks of life have towards elevating their STEM education and access to the latest digital skills.

To date, the latest cohort of young learners have participated in digital skills development, and innovation and entrepreneurship courses. The next step, is the virtual hackathon, which will group up participants and provide them with mentorship as they develop innovative digital solutions that address one or more challenges faced by their communities today. Among the most notable project ideas that have been proposed include an exclusively Arabic audiobook digital platform, and a mobile application that allows users to report on the geolocation of emergency situations in real time, to name a few. Groups will then virtually present their projects to a panel of leading judges from across the globe, and the top three groups will receive further mentorship and support to take their innovative solutions to the next level.   

Participants had this to say about their experience with MENACodes:

“Thank you for giving us this training. I am a big tech lover and am going to continue improving my coding skills.” – Omar Abu Sharaah, Jordan

“I want to thank MENACodes for giving us the Java training, I learned so much and am going to continue with coding. Also I learned a lot during the life skills and entrepreneurship training, most importantly I understood the meaning of entrepreneurship and what it means to be an entrepreneur, and also I learned about design thinking for the first time.” – Omar Abdulrahman, Lebanon

“I want to thank MENACodes trainers for their time and patience while they delivered the Java and Entreprenurship trainings. During the life skills training we got to know ourselves, and we learned how pitch our business ideas using PowerPoint and we also learned to build a business model canvas by answering 9 questions.” –  Abdullah Niaz, Yemen

“During this course we learned how to organize our lives and our time.” –  Rafik Soltana, Algeria

“Before joining this program I did not have a clear idea of what entrepreneurship and design thinking were.” – Hanady Abu Odeh, Palestine