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Coding game opens the door to dream job

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Buhle Pikoli was introduced to coding back in 2018 by Tangible Africa.                                       photo:SUPPLIED
Buhle Pikoli was introduced to coding back in 2018 by Tangible Africa. photo:SUPPLIED

COMING full circle, Buhle Pikoli is evidence of the tangible impact that Gqeberha-headquartered Tangible Africa is having on the youth of the continent.

In fewer than five years offline coding games, spearheaded by Tangible Africa, have opened up a new world to young people across the continent.

The significance and success of this Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department and Leva Foundation engagement project is that it requires very few resources to introduce coding concepts to the youth.

“Our coding project started in 2017 with Byron Batteson’s Honours project at the Computing Sciences Department. Buhle is the first person we know of who completed the whole journey. May there be thousands more,” said an excited Professor Jean Greyling, Tangible Africa Founder, and Associate Professor at NMU’s Computing Sciences Department.

Batteson developed both the Tanks and the Rangers coding applications, which have become Tangible Africa’s flagship apps, played offline at schools and coding tournaments across the continent.

For 21-year-old Pikoli, the course of his entire life changed one July afternoon, on Mandela Day 2018, when he played Tanks for the first time at Cowan High School, in New Brighton.

“Within three days he completed all 35 levels. To acknowledge this, we took him for a visit to S4 Integration. After matric he enrolled for the Diploma in Software Development at Nelson Mandela University, which he completed in 2022. He recently started as a software developer at S4,” said Greyling.

S4 is an award-winning international technology company specialising in software development and industrial automation solutions.

Speaking during his first week on the job as Junior Software Developer, Pikoli said it was a great feeling to achieve one of his goals and return to the facility that impressed him so much in Grade 11, with its sophisticated technology and robotics.

“I need to thank Prof Greyling and Tangible Africa for introducing me to coding and inspiring me to follow this career. I feel proud and honoured to be the first to have come full circle, but I know I will not be the last. There are many talented young people living in the townships who lack access to resources and will benefit greatly from exposure to coding concepts at a young age,” said Pikoli.

While high school learners are still included in the coding clubs and tournaments hosted across the continent, Tangible Africa has also expanded its reach by introducing the coding games and concepts to senior primary school learners.

This has so far resulted in four bursaries being sponsored by corporate companies for talented learners to attend the technology-strong Alexander Road High School in Gqeberha.

While Culumanco Komanisi, from Zwide, was the first young Tangible Africa coder sponsored to attend Alexander Road High School, thanks to Dimension Data, this year there are three additional learners who will attend the school, thanks to the generous donation to Tangible Africa by Amazon vice-president David Brown.

Brown, who is an alumnus of Alexander Road High School, will sponsor Norman Msaka (previously from Swartkops Primary School), Shaun Johansson and Rayhanah Walters (both previously from Parsons Hill Primary School) who have all excelled as winners of local coding competitions hosted in Gqeberha last year.


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