21st century, a world of digitalization, where everything has become about new technologies. Future life will depend more on digitalized utensils which will make life easier. All this is possible through the magic of computer coding and programing.Some of us don’t even know what coding is, but it is the very basic instruction that makes any machine, phone app, or the internet function as desired. In a future that awaits, one has to hold a multi domain filed to live. how do we prepare our next generation for that environment? For a world that would require more than three professions?
Today, Sr. Solution Architect Mussie Brhane is here with us. Mussie grew up in the fields of Sahl. He feels it is time to share his experiences and give back to his people. He came up with an idea to establish a center where he would train young kids in coding and other computer subjects. To put his long awaited dream to reality, he established Dembe HEBCOSS (Home Energy Business Continuity off-grid Solar Solutions) , which he hoped that many people would visit and get a deeper knowledge on technology. In order to succeed with his long term plan, he also came up with various solutions including energy that would assist in helping out to reach out to rural areas. He still wishes to create many more centers across the country to train 100,000 students by 2020 with the help of the community.
- The establishment of Laqueve computer center?
In 2013 Laqueve was established with three sectors- energy, technology and training. It all started with a will to give back to the community. And also, in a time when technology has taken over the daily needs of humans, I think that we are still not in a stage to cope with the world, we are distant. So, it is important to train people to be familiar with the digitalized world. If we don’t do that now, I think it would be too late. It is now that we have to prepare ourselves for the future.
The country also has a vision to enhance the technology of the country from a long time.
The main goal is to teach young kids from an early age because we believe that skills are built like bricks, one at a time; it doesn’t just come out of the blue. To change our children from consumers to contributors, now is the time. The world market is changing to knowledge and skill based environment.
So, we first took more than a 100 students on a pilot project. That is when we learned that the students have the brain power to accept the challenges, especially in coding and robotics. Now we are trying to replicate this by establishing various centers across the country. Our aim is to reach a target of 100,000 students by 2020.
We follow a principle that 14% per day is school time, and children much more extra time for other activities. Instead of spending the day playing outside, we want to create an environment for them to be creators and come out productive individuals. The assumption is that by the time they get to the high school level, those kids would have a certain expertise and will be able to join the working environment.
- So why did you focus on coding?
The 19th century was about industrial revolution, 20th was more about physics and how to change the standard of living , and 21st century is all about digitalizing, and we clearly became dependent on the digital based economy. Machines are devices that won’t do anything until you give them certain instructions. The people who create those instructions are coders. Coding is the smallest instruction that you give to a machine to do something for you. All machine languages, all factories, are based on coding. So, coding is one of the most essential subjects in the future. That is why we are starting with coding.
So for now we are focusing on the technology side of it. However, in the future, we’ll associate coding with other subjects as well. 21st century is for those with a multiple skill. For instance, if one is studying to be a doctor they also should know about coding to accommodate the profession.
We have also the value and principles subjects that we want to add to the stem. If one person is good in his/her profession but doesn’t know the values and principles of its community, then it is meaningless no matter how good one is. So, in coding we teach value in a different way. Coding is not an easy subject that you work on and get a result. It needs constant hard work and care which can sometimes be frustrating. So when you learn coding you are also learning how to be patient. No matter how many times you make a mistake, you learn how to be committed until you finish your project. Again, in coding, we work in teams which makes you have the team work spirit. So these are the hidden courses we give out in coding.
- The solution you have come up with?
The idea is to establish a center in every corner of the country. For this to work we needed to come up with constant energy solutions that would be sufficient enough for the rural areas as well. So we came up with HEBCOSS to make our plan possible. HEBCOSS center is also an eco-system of training, technoogy and energy. We aim to reach out to the community at the bot tom of the pyramid in any way we can. For this to work, we want to establish the other centers with a minimum budget, so it would be easier for everybody. This program is to support our community, so we do follow a low-fee payment in order for everyone to be able to join. Also, we give free course to martyrs’ children.
We designed solar and wind energy solutions which can be a great help in the process. Again, instead of giving ten computers to ten students, we attached ten computer monitors to one computer. That way, we can teach as many students with limited resources.
What we are doing now is that we are investing our money, en¬ergy and time. Nonetheless, we want others to replicate what we have. Anybody who is interested in making Eritrean community’s life better can replicate the solution and apply it. They can do it on their own or they can partner with us. We are always ready to help out. We don’t have the desire to have the ownership of every center. Different governmental and non-governmental associations can assist us in this great endeavor that we are taking. We believe that this should be everyone’s primary goal. We are always open to share our experiences.
- You also have a digital literacy program?
Our principle is that coding and computing are for all, and no one should be excluded. One of the barriers that we have noticed is that since most of the elders are not familiar with the technology world, they sometimes tend to be a barrier for the kids to learn. So, we have created a digital literacy program for elders on how to use the computer, the internet and phones. Everyone should be introduced to the technologies. That way they would motivate the kids even more.
- How many centers do you have?
We have three centers in Sembel, Nakfa house and Denden. We are also working with the community to establish more centers soon.
- Thank you for having us Mussie.
It’s a pleasure.