Young Scientists

“Afrique innovante“ award - 2. Arielle Kitio: ABCcode, to learn computer science without language barriers

To train African entrepreneurs, it is better to start at an early age.

 "I am very honoured, delighted to be the winner of this award. I am Arielle Kitio I am the ambassador of the Next Einstein Forum in Cameroon. I prepare a PhD in software engineering and I am also an entrepreneur. I have a startup, CAYSTI, that works in the field of technological innovation for education.

Entrepreneurs success stories in Africa are exceptions today. How are we going to ensure that in 10 years' time we no longer talk about "innovation in Africa"? That it's as normal as in the United States? Because we don't see as many "Young American Entrepreneur" forums as "Young African Entrepreneur".

And since innovation nowadays is mainly scientific and technological, we thought about what we are going to do to make a standard of the detection, supervision and then the emergence of African talent?

We thought that the answer lies essentially with children. How can we infuse young people, at an early age, with a passion for science and technology, which they should no longer see as a subject in school, which they should no longer see as "white people's business". But that they must see as a real tool that is playful, that is powerful, that they can use to make their dreams become true.

So what do we do? Children are taught to code and do robotics from an early age.

Over the years we have realized that there is an untold barrier: the language barrier. We are in France, but when we hold a technology conference, which language do we speak? We speak English.

But what about these children who were born in Senegal and who, before learning French, already know how to speak Wolof, can write Wolof, and then they have to learn French and then to learn advanced technology they have to learn English.

For example, in Cameroon there are 250 languages. A child is born, he knows how to speak Bassa or Dschang very well. When he goes to school to learn mathematics, he is asked to learn French. And then when he wants to learn robotics, to learn the coding that drives the world today, he has to learn English.

We figured that this path is too long. So we created what we call ABCcode, which is a fun and intuitive software that allows children to be introduced to coding and robotics from an early age, but in their basic languages. So if a child can speak French very well he can learn to code with ABCcode; the same if he can speak Wolof.

No language should be a barrier to the learning process of what brings us to today's world of new technologies. So we created ABCcode, which we tried with nearly 300 children and which is currently working more or less well."


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