On an upper floor of the Stanbic Heights building in Accra on a Saturday morning, sixteen young students follow the instructions of the virtual tutor in a digital training webinar. From basic coding language to the use of Java and HTML, the lower and upper basic school students between nine and seventeen years old are being trained to enhance their IT capabilities in order to take advantage of the opportunities in today’s digital world.

“This digital class has helped me to learn more about computer coding using HTML and CSS,” said Uma Abdul Sala, a beneficiary of the digital training programme developed by IBM Ghana. Uma and five other female students were selected to be part of the training during the World Literacy Day digital skills seminar given by United Way Ghana for schools in Ayawaso East in September last year.

Digital training class in session Image caption: Umar Abdul Sala, JHS 3, Nima-Accra

The weekend digital training project forms part of IBM Digital – Nation Africa, a $70 million investment initiative for digital literacy on the continent. IBM Ghana’s Health and Safety Engineer and coordinator of the training initiative, Samuel Frimpong, is impressed with the marked progress the third batch of beneficiaries are making each week. “So far, it’s been encouraging to see them develop their digital skills rapidly. We will assist them to grow these capabilities to develop innovative apps and websites and compete globally.”

As a non-profit organization devoted to improving basic education, United Way Ghana believes their partnership with IBM Ghana for the World Literacy Day digital seminar, which led to the selection of the six young female students for this extensive training, is a prime example of how working with corporate organizations can yield significant social impact.

“We want to extend this relationship with IBM Ghana to advance digital inclusion and provide children from under privileged communities with more interactive educational opportunities to improve their digital knowledge and prepare them for successful careers in the future,” said Janet Butler, Acting Director for United Way Ghana. “Teaching more young people advanced digital skills will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the digital community in Ghana and across Africa.”

At the World Literacy Day event in Nima last September, Country General Manager for IBM Ghana, Angela Kyeremanten-Jimoh announced plans to involve some students from East Ayawaso in the weekly digital training initiative aimed at scaling up the digital capabilities of young people. “Without digital literacy, keeping abreast with and staying at pace with the world is difficult. With effective deployment of technology in education, students and schools can advance the way they study and learn.”

The IBM Ghana extensive digital class is a year-long training programme which started in October 2017 and is divided into four levels – black, blue, yellow and green belts. Different batches of students are trained during the weekend sessions on programming, coding, Java script and HTML, among other digital topics.

During a snack break, Patience Nyame, a final year junior high school student from Kotobabi, munches on cookies as she interacts with her new friends from other schools. She expressed her gratitude to IBM Ghana and United Way for making this training possible.

“Through the training, I have gained knowledge about coding, how to create my own website using CSS and HTML. I have made new friends and we have lots of fun learning together.” Nyame said.

Patience Nyame, JHS 3,  Kotobabi-Accra Image caption: Patience Nyame, JHS 3, Kotobabi-Accra

Umar Abdul Sala, JHS 3,  Nima-Accra Image caption: Umar Abdul Sala, JHS 3, Nima-Accra