12 February 2018

Rwanda: University Students Acquire Coding Skills

A group of 27 students from the University of Rwanda on Friday received their certificates after a six-month programme in coding, a training that was facilitated by DMM.HeHe, a local firm that develops mobile technologies to boost service delivery.

The purpose of the training programme is to equip students with coding and product development.

Before getting the certificates, the students presented the apps they had developed to solve different societal problems.

One of the apps presented was the 'smart schools bag' that has a GPS Chip attached to a computer for easy tracking of the location of your machine if it is stolen. One of the brains behind the app is Jean de Dieu Masengesho who explained that it will help solve problems of theft especially amongst students.

Another app is Kidcodage, and according to Elysée Manishimwe, the developer, this web application for kids will help them code, learn different programmes in a creative way while playing.

"We target young children because they have a creative mind; we want to grow their logic to develop solutions to existing problems," he said.

Some of the skills he learnt from the training are improving users' experience, how to interact with people, getting to know customers' problems first before designing solutions, and nurturing a can-do attitude.

Another app was Umurenge Information Technology Management System that will solve problems like lack of transparency in the services offered by local governments, among other apps.

"At university, students study many things and never focus on a particular area unlike this programme where students focus on something specific by taking their ideas and sharing them with people in society," said Dr Luc Ngend, the Head of Department, computer science at school of ICT, College of Science and Technology at University of Rwanda.

According to the CEO DMM.HeHe, Clarisse Iribagiza, through the programme, students are taught to develop an attitude of problem solving so that no one else determines their future. "They are trained to design thinking where they can easily think about a problem."

"Through problems discovered, students have been able to deploy solutions to the society in a responsible manner," she notes.

Iribagiza is also glad that the company has been able to help their former students get jobs in ICT companies of which DMM.HeHe is.

A panel of professors and experts pointed out mistakes and gave advice to every student after presentations to enable them improve on their apps.

In his speech, Fiffi Baido, the company's chief technology officer, encouraged graduates to focus on meaningful solutions, and to share everything they have learnt with various people because it will help them improve.

He also urged them not to fear starting different innovations because, with courage, they will make it since an idea doesn't need to be the best, but what is important is starting now.

The HeHe code clubs is a 4-year-old programme having produced over 400 coders and some of them have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs in Rwanda, though this particular training was the first one for university students.

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