PCF New Zealand sponsored Code Camps aim to inspire Pacific children and create lasting digital equity

 New opportunities arose for 35 students at Si'ufaga Seventh Day Adventist Primary School in Savai'i Samoa at their first code camp at the end of last month, which aims to increase exposure and participation in ICT and STEM education in schools, and digital literacy in the wider community. It is hoped this will lead to an interest in career pathways into the tech industry as well as innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities, and build lasting capability for teachers and students in Samoa with Aotearoa New Zealand education and technology providers. 

Savai’i primary school students learning coding basics, ensuring greater tech capabilities for their futures. PHOTO Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi/Samoan Observer 

This code camp was part of the “Indigitech: Pacificode” series, sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) and run by a collaboration of some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top education and technology providers including Code Avengers, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Education Perfect, who collectively provide educational equipment, technology devices, and teaching resources.  

The facilitator of this code camp is locally-based E3 Samoa Trust. The trust, founded by Togisala Tony Leota, has been engaged in a community project connecting rural schools in Savai'i to the internet. This inaugural code camp in Samoa began with a three-day training event for local teachers, also facilitated by E3 Samoa Trust. By taking care to support and empower the teachers, Tony and his team ensure that the impact of this event lasts beyond the duration of the code camp.  

PCF Project Manager David Vaeafe says: “The importance of STEM education and in particular workshops like this code camp in preparing our fanau, our indigenous young people, with this basic understanding of technology is an essential step in creating a more equitable and sustainable future for our Pacific peoples and the region at large.” 

Code Avengers’ Ray Allen says: “Studies have shown that students with ICT and STEM skills are more flexible, creative, and can take advantage of a changing workplace and an evolving job market. By engaging indigenous young people in this learning, we open pathways and career opportunities allowing them to better provide for themselves, their families and their communities.” 

In addition, a focus on digital literacy in schools addresses the digital divide that exists in many indigenous communities. This includes digital equity around access to a device and the internet.  

The Pacific Island code camps follow the successful pilot of code camps held in New Zealand called “AWS Indigitech: Changemakers,” which saw more than 60 students aged 12-14 years old from Rotorua and Christchurch trained in STEM topics.  

The ongoing Indigitech: Pacificode camps blend cross-curricular and culturally responsive project-based learning, providing students with hands-on experience creating a digital outcome. Students have the opportunity to create games, websites, and more.  

Code Avengers Ray Allen says: “Following the success of code camps in Papua New Guinea and Samoa, we are working hard with sponsors and in-country partners to create digital equity and ongoing capability in the Pacific. Our goal is to inspire and provide more sustainable opportunities for students in Samoa and other Pacific Islands to pursue education in ICT and STEM, helping to bridge the digital divide.” 

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