More than 7,700 children and young people in Lebanon have developed their digital skills to support the country’s six-billion-dollar IT sector, as part of Code Week Lebanon, an innovative partnership between the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, global technology company SAP and more than 15 local partners.
In line with the vision of His Excellency Prime Minister Saad Hariri to support youth innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and creativity, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education is working with public, private and academic partners to introduce coding skills and tools to thousands of Lebanese and refugee students in public schools.
One of the largest and most innovative initiatives, the recent Code Week Lebanon, taught scratch coding and web programming skills across more than 100 Lebanese public schools, totalling 7,785 Lebanese and refugee children and youth aged between eight and 24, as well as 147 coding trainers.
Code Week Lebanon is part of the wider Refugee Code Week, which works with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), SAP and partners to empower youth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with coding.
Top participants can leverage the resources of the One Million Arab Coders initiative, which aims to support one million Arabs in becoming professional software developers.
Participants can access career opportunities, internships, certifications and ‘nano-degrees’, entrepreneurship accelerators and cash prizes through the programme’s ecosystem.
“Lebanon’s youth are eager to make a difference in the digital economy. Our public, private and academic sectors are joining forces to provide youth with the skills foundation to become software engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Fadi Yarak, Director General of Education, Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education. “Code Week Lebanon’s accomplishments show how global technology partnerships can integrate coding into schools and support youth development.”
While Lebanon’s IT sector contributes US$ 6 billion in GDP, according to the Investment Authority of Lebanon, there is a major skills gap. Career search website Bayt.com shows that 82% of regional employers say IT skills are ‘critical’ for senior roles in the next 10 years, but 63% of Lebanese professionals say they face a skills gap.
“Coding is widely viewed as the language of the future, serving as the foundation for careers ranging from government services to gaming applications,” said Gergi Abboud, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Middle East South, SAP. “Code Week Lebanon has helped to close the digital literacy gap and support job creation, economic growth, social change and ultimately a better future for the next generation.”
Lebanon ranked as having the highest country participation among Refugee Code Week’s nine participating countries. Altogether, Refugee Code Week engaged with more than 15,000 children and youth across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
“More than one million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon and one of the biggest challenges is accelerating the educational development of younger refugees,” said Mohammed Abu Asaker, Senior Regional Public Information Officer for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). “Code Week Lebanon has helped to develop refugee skills, provide sustainable education resources, and give refugees hope for a better life.”