By Foday Moriba Conteh
In order to complement strides made by the Government to expand innovation and technology in the country, one of Sierra Leone’s leading mobile operators, Orange-SL in partnership with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and ST Foundation Bridge the Digital Divide-Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 25th February 2020 launched the Super Coders Project at the Harford Secondary School for Girls in the Moyamba District.
Delivering a statement on behalf of Orange SL, the Regional Business Manager, Augustus Bendu, disclosed how the Super Coders Project is an introductory ICT training program for children between the ages of 9 to 16 explaining that Scratch is a computer programming language. He said in Scratch, programs are made by joining together coloured blocks using the mouse. This group of blocks (called scripts) tells characters on the Screen (called Sprites) what to do. Scratch is free, safe and fun to experiment with.
She stated that with Scratch, children can make their own interactive Stories, Animations, Games, Music, and Art and Scratch has large collections or Libraries of cool graphics and fun sounds to play around with, which enable children to solve real life social issues through coding and animation.
He maintained that coding, once introduced in related schools by Orange, will be included in their ICT curricular and will be taught by the ICT tutors in each school. “Many will recall that Orange SL commenced the execution of its FQE project in October 2019, as the company distributed 2,000 hygiene packs to 20 schools in the Western Urban and Rural areas and conducted awareness and sensitization raising on menstrual hygiene and sexual reproductive health,” he pointed out adding that in this year the company will roll out all five projects before the year ends.
“As a global telecoms player operating in about 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East, Orange aims at being the leading partner in the digital transformation of all our countries of presence. In achieving this ambition, Orange has included education as one of its key pillars under its CSR policy,” he also underscored.
He maintained that Orange, being a multi service provider and a responsible corporate citizen places emphasis on corporate social investment, adding that in the last three years, Orange has invested about $ 400,000 dollars mainly in the areas of women empowerment, health, education and the environment and that the company remains the first operator in Sierra Leone to contribute to the Government’s Free Quality Education (FQE) programme by pledging the sum of $1.5m in material assistance over a period of five years.
He further disclosed that Orange SL will be hosting an Inter-School Competition that will commence soon also disclosing how the winners will be given a full computer lab built and finished by Orange-SL.
Director, ST Foundation, Bridge the Digital Divide-Sierra Leone, Mohamed Dumbuya, expressed appreciation to Orange Sierra Leone for partnering with them in order to implement the Super Coders Scratch Project in secondary schools in the country.
He also disclosed that the Super Coders Project is an introductory ICT training program for children between the ages of 9 to 16.
He said the union, marriage or partnership they are enjoying was created by UNICEF-Sierra Leone by bringing them and Orange SL together.
He said STF/BDD-SL has been working in providing ICT education for schools and higher learning institutions in Sierra Leone for the past 10 years and within that period of operation over 145,000 Sierra Leoneans have benefited.
He said ST Foundation has 31 locations in the country, but said the Harford Secondary School is the only school that has benefitted in the Moyamba District, adding that he has presented a list to the Ministry of Education and will ensure that more schools benefit from the project further admonishing the pupils to make good use of the opportunity.
CSR Officer, Rebecca Sogbeh, underscoring the Free Quality Education package of Orange disclosed that the company remains the first operator in Sierra Leone to contribute to the Government’s Free Quality Education (FQE) Agenda by pledging the sum of $1.5m in material assistance over a period of five years, adding that in 2019 Orange launched and rolled out the hygiene packs for girls aged 12-18 years further revealing how they are going to donate 10,000 packs over five years period and over 2,000 sanitary packs yearly to schools.
She disclosed that Orange-SL, in this year, will launch and roll out Solar Kits for school children in the rural areas of which 1,000 solar pack kits will be distributed over a five year period to 200 villages without grid to be covered per year saying they will install them in local libraries/community centers/schools etc. in which 100,000 people are expected to benefit from.
She said Orange in partnership with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), designed five projects. One of such project is the Super Coders Scratch Program through which Orange in partnership with ST Foundation intends to introduce ICT training on basic coding for children in 100 Secondary Schools with existing ICT labs over a period of five years.
Deputy Director, Teaching Service Commission in Moyamba District, Edmond J Momoh, officially launched the Super Coders Project during which he expressed appreciation to Orange-SL and ST Foundation for the implementation of the project.
He also encouraged the pupils to make good use of the opportunity maintaining that the project will enhance the development of the children.