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9th UNESCO Youth Forum

Building your own mobile apps for sustainable development

Redeat Hailu (South Africa) and Marvellous Olakunori (Nigeria) speaking on the (Women in Science) Girl’s STEAM Camp at the Youth Forum 15 minutes of Fame. © UNESCO

The UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative organized a series of presentations within the 2015 Youth Forum to highlight the potential of youth resolving issues of sustainable development through the development of locally, relevant mobile apps. The presentations highlighted the winner App concept of the OceanApp competition, youth-friendly mobile app development frameworks, and successful examples of youth training programmes from the Arab States and Africa, including the new “Searching for Martha” Project for empowering young African women.

The aim of the YouthMobile Initiative is to provide high-level, open-licensed training and skills to a critical mass of young people to confidently develop and promote mobile apps to resolve issues of sustainable development and global citizenship, and to create employment opportunities for youth.

Through its innovative YouthMobile Initiative, UNESCO aims at empowering young people with more confidence to harness ICTs for addressing local and global issues: “It is by understanding how technology works that it becomes a true tool for empowerment”, says Mr Davide Storti, from UNESCO.

Computational thinking and mobile application coding can also contribute to filling the increasing demand for IT-related jobs and generate viable employment opportunities in the growing ICT industry both nationally and globally.

The biennial 2015 UNESCO Youth Forum brought over 500 young women and men from all over the world to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris focus on issues related to Climate Change and the post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda to ensure that the voices of future generations remain front and centre of the new development agenda.

The UNESCO YouthMobile Team organized presentations from:

  1. The City of Oulu, Finland, where 8 senior high-school students demonstrated a game app concept for preserving the Oceans, following school-competition (YouthMobile OceanApp competition);
  2. Ms Redeat Hailu from South Africa and Ms Marvellous Olakunori from Nigeria who spoke on the Rwanda WiSci (Women in Science) Girl’s STEAM Camp
  3. Ms Felicia Khoja Kamriani from MIT, USA
  4. Entrepreneurs Ms Neza Guillaine (Rwanda) and Ms Grace Ihejiamaizu (Nigeria) speaking on YouthMobile, the Searching for Martha Project and the Technovation Challenge
  5. Ms Laura de Reynal from Mozilla France introducing the revolutionary Webmaker mobile tool for developing mobile apps
  6. Mr. Paul Guermonprez from Intel, France and Mr. Bouna Kane IMS Entreprendre pour la Cité, France

The YouthMobile speakers were featured in the Forum sessions:

  1. 15 minutes of Fame
  2. Capacity-building Workshop
  3. Forum Panel: UNESCO in Action

The capacity-building Workshop was held on Wednesday 28 October, 2015 with more than 100 Forum delegates had the opportunity to listen and interact with the speakers on the transformative power of youth conceiving and building mobile apps for sustainable development.

Participants had the opportunity to learn from accomplished experts and discover amazing projects by secondary school students who shared their ideas and practices in the areas of mobile apps development, mobile technology and ICT skills.

MIT App Inventor

Felicia Khoja Kamriani highlighting MIT App Inventor CC BY SA UNESCO / Davide Storti

Ms Felicia Khoja Kamriani, Education and Business Development associate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Boston (MIT) introduced the App Inventor initiative and its impact on global mobile computing education. She highlighted a wealth of learning outcomes by providing examples of apps made by students around the world.

The recently launched MIT App Inventor Master Trainers Program is a new opportunity for educators to become MIT certified as experts in App Inventor so they can conduct trainings for other educators and students enhancing access and knowledge of computer science education.

Aaro’s Adventure – new mobile app game on Oceans from Finland

Oulu City students demonstrating the new ‘Aaro’s Adventure’ mobile game. © Tiina Fredriksson‎

From the city of Oulu in Finland, with the support by NxtVn, a team of 8 senior high-school students demonstrated ‘Aaro’s Adventure’ a new mobile app game concept aimed at youth to preserve the world’s oceans. The game based on oceanographic data from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission ARGO Initiative. The App raises the player's awareness about the world’s oceans protection and the sustainable future of our planet through a series of mini-games.

Technovation and UNESCO YouthMobile Searching for Martha

Grace Ihejiamaizu (Nigeria) and Neza Guillaine (Rwanda) presenting on Technovation and Searching for Martha. CC BY SA UNESCO / P. Chiang-Joo

Entrepreneurs, Ms Neza Guillaine (Rwanda) and Ms Grace Ihejiamaizu (Nigeria), presented a number of existing YouthMobile-relevant programmes and initiatives such as Her2Voice (Rwanda) and Technovation (global), targeting young people, especially women and girls who are vastly underrepresented in the Computer Science field. Both Neza and Grace strongly believe that learning coding will change women’s social status and address the gender inequality issues in their countries and worldwide.

Grace is a member of Nigerian Team Charis, who took the first place in the high school division of the 2015 Technovation Challenge for their App “Discardious,” a mobile solution to the problem of improper waste disposal in Nigeria.

Grace and Neza also presented on the new YouthMobile “Searching for Martha” Project. Launched within the framework of the 2015 Transform Africa Summit in Rwanda, the “Searching for Martha” Project aims to empower young African women entrepreneurs to successfully offer high-quality training to young African girl to confidently develop, sell and widely promote mobile apps especially targeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and to create employment opportunities.

Specifically, the project aims to: 

  1. Identify 1,000 accomplished, young African women entrepreneurs in mobile apps training for young people
  2. Provide them with high-level entrepreneurial training and access to capital
  3. Charge them to train at least 1,000 young women on advanced mobile apps development

The slogan is: 1 million m-powered young African women by 2017.

Mozilla Webmaker

Laura de Reynal sharing Mozilla Webmaker experiences. CC BY SA UNESCO/Davide Storti

Ms Laura de Reynal shared Mozilla’s experience in different countries with Webmaker, a suite of user-centered tools for creating things on the web. She emphasized that Webmaker offers new opportunity for young mobile users to discover their potential as creators of web content and learn valuable Web literacy skills.

Intel Coding for Kids

Bouna Kane and Paul Guermonprez presenting on kids coding initiatives in France. CC BY SA UNESCO/Lydia Liu

Mr Paul Guermonprez from Intel France and Mr. Bouna Kane from IMS Entreprendre pour la Cité expressed their common desires to introduce young people to coding. Intel presented initiatives involving kids from a very young age on coding and making using tools such as MIT-Scratch and the newly launched Arduino Genuino 101 learning and development boards. IMS explained their initiatives bringing together and supporting companies engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Youth Forum Panel: UNESCO in Action

In the afternoon session of Youth Forum on Wednesday 28 October, the ‘UNESCO in Action’ Panel introduced the UNESCO projects and ongoing activities which young participants can engage on or follow-up. The YouthMobile Initiative was represented by Ms Grace Ihejiamaizu (Nigeria) who emphasized the significant meaning of learning how to make mobile App solutions among young people, particularly for young women.

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