Tangible Africa empowers educators to bridge Africa’s digital divide

Tangible Africa empowers educators to bridge Africa’s digital divide

Funded and supported by one of the world’s largest cloud services provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Tangible Africa has found a way to equip children with coding skills through innovative gaming platforms, but this impact extends beyond just learners.

Their work also empowers educators across the continent with bespoke training programmes and facilitation support that help bridge the digital divide for teachers and students.

It all began in Gqeberha, South Africa, when 21-year-old student Byron Batteson developed the TANKS app for his Honours project in 2017. Prof Jean Greyling, Head of the Computing Sciences Department at Mandela University, expanded the concept into a fully-fledged initiative by partnering with Leva Foundation. Byron now works in the AWS offices in Dublin, while Prof Greyling continues to mentor students and oversee Tangible Africa’s growth through Leva Foundation.

Since its inception, the organisation has impacted thousands of children and teachers alike across countries like Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and even Ireland.

Tangible Africa’s flagship initiative, the RANGERS smartphone app, gamifies coding education, making it accessible even in regions lacking computers, Internet access, or electricity. The app, supported by AWS, operates offline, allowing learners from underserved communities to learn coding fundamentals all while having fun. RANGERS leverages Android, the predominant mobile operating system in Africa, to deliver coding education to thousands of students.

Prof Greyling says the digital skills gap in Africa is alarming. In a 2023 World Bank report, only 50% of countries in Africa have computer skills as part of their school curriculum, compared to 85% of countries globally. “While many children in Africa are growing into a tech-driven future through initiatives like Tangible Africa, the impact should extend to teachers as well. After all, these are the heroes responsible for sparking to life a passion for tech at a grassroots level.”

Greyling says AWS’s support has been instrumental in scaling Tangible Africa’s impact. According to Education Equity Lead at AWS, Aanya Niaz, “We’re so proud to be associated with initiatives like Tangible Africa. This is so much more than just funding, it is about driving a shared mission elevate the continent by opening the door to a future driven and dominated by digital growth.”

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