Image by Chris Ried
CODING CLUB
MOTIVATION

Due to the global pandemic, the PWSAfrica team was unable to travel to Africa in 2020 for our annual Python programming workshop. As a result, Dr. Sofiat Olaosebikan (our founder) started a remote coding club in December 2020 to continue to empower the young minds in Africa.

GOAL

Improve members' programming confidence in Python, as well as their problem solving skills.

SELECTION PROCESS

38 applications were received, 15 applicants were interviewed. Finally, 10 of them from Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda, received an invitation to join the club (50% female).

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Members of the coding club having their first introductory meeting.

Left to right from the top: Dr Sofiat Olaosebikan, Chinonso Omeke (Nigeria), Adeyemi Gbolahan (Nigeria), Kayode Kueje (Nigeria), Kehinde Bayode (Nigeria), Yankholanga Pelewelo (Malawi), Mtondera Vitu-Faith Manda (Malawi), Edith Nakiyingi (Uganda), Lekan Jimoh (Nigeria), Ahmed Saludeen (Nigeria), Ubaydah Abdul-Wasiu (Nigeria).

TIMELINE

The coding club ran for six weeks (excluding holidays).

07 December 2020 – 29 January 2021.

  • In terms of resources, members were provided with a text-book, lecture notes on the fundamentals of Python programming, and a range of coding challenges.

  • They were encouraged to attempt coding problems on websites such as Edabit, HackerRank and Project Euler, to help improve programming confidence.

  • Each member had access to a laptop and manageable internet access.

  • Data incentive was provided on a weekly basis

  • Zoom meetings were held weekly, with at most 3 members per meeting.

  • During the meeting, each coding club member talk through some of the concepts and codes they have been working on for that week. This way, gaps in their knowledge were identified, misconceptions were treated and everyone learned from each other’s mistakes.

  • Some time was also spent on live coding from scratch and debugging.

  • Outside the Zoom meetings, members connected on WhatsApp via the coding club group, to have their questions answered promptly and to support each other as they learn.

  • Dropbox was used for progress monitoring and feedback on codes.

HOW THE CODING CLUB WAS RAN

My problem-solving skill became better than I thought it would be in just six weeks. The major setback I had before was interpreting a problem (challenging ones), and also debugging my code. Now, I am more comfortable seeing those error messages, I see them as guide while debugging. I also got comfortable facing problems, this made me realise that programming requires patience and it is this mindset I built as I tackle difficult problems.

Kehinde Bayode (Electrical Engineering, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.)

I found myself looking forward to Thursdays when myself and my group can meet with Dr. Sofiat and talk about problems solved or encountered during the course of the week and also the part where we have to walk her through our codes. That part is as fun as it is challenging! I now approach programming problems better. Moreover, the experience I got in less than a month, and fellow coding club members that became family, I couldn’t have imagined anything like it!

Lekan Jimoh (Computer Science, Lagos State University, Nigeria.)

At this point, I cannot help but gape at the tremendous transformation I have gone through and the better coder that I have become. A once complete amateur, can now easily comprehend most of the syntax of Python, make meaningful codes; solve several challenges on the easy and medium level scales, and debug. With this knowledge, I am excited about growing into a more proficient coder, and ultimately use this knowledge as a springboard for other specialisations for this language.

Edith Nakiyingi (Biomedical Laboratory Technology, Makerere University, Uganda.)

REFLECTIONS