Free coder training coming to Joburg

(Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
(Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - An ex-investment banker is launching a free two-year computer coding programme for students from any background.

The non-profit project, dubbed 'WeThinkCode_', is expected to be the “MBA of software engineering” in South Africa, according to ex-RMB banker and co-founder of the project Arlene Mulder.

However, unlike an MBA, students of WeThinkCode_ can have any education level.

The courses, which range from major software engineering subjects such as C++ to e-commerce, kick off in 2016.

Applicants who successfully pass an aptitude test will also have their studies sponsored and paid for by corporate organisations at a cost of R100 000 per student.

“At the end of the course, we’re saying you’re a world-class software engineer,” Mulder told Fin24.

“Most importantly, you would have gained skills for the future,” said Mulder.

WeThinkCode_ is set to open a facility in Braamfontein, Johannesburg for candidates aged 17 to 35.

Student applications open in October with the project aiming to have 100 students receiving sponsorships. A ‘boot camp’ for the project will also start in January while classes are expected to begin in March 2016.

The initiative is based on Ecole 42, a French programming school that adopts a different approach to teaching computer coding.

Peer-to-peer learning is part of Ecole 42’s mix where students take part in participatory and project-based learning. The learning process also hinges on gamification while there are also no set classes.

Once students have completed the course, they’ll also gain four months' corporate experience, said Mulder.

Mulder, though, also wants to close the technology skills gap in the rest of Africa

“We have plans to scale this,” Mulder told Fin24.

“We want to source and develop 100 000 coders in Africa,” Mulder said.

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