Three of WeThinkCode’s students recently took part in the Agile Africa conference. Agile Africa is an annual conference where African software professionals meet to uncover better ways of working and developing software.

Below you can see the video and the speeches that they gave at the conference.

Tanaka Malaba.

I remember my first vacation work in University. It was the audit of a German manufacturing subsidiary. Now, Auditing was my subject. if you know anything about Accounting Sciences at Wits you’d know that you’re doing good if you failing well; 46 ­ 49 was the sweep spot. I was the best, worst auditor. It’s a real thing. While others were in their thirties I was flying high with 46.

So here I was, end of 2nd year and part of the EY audit team for my vac work. I was nervous, but I was the best worst auditor at the best university in Africa; “I’ll be fine”. Our manager draws up a schedule of tasks on the board and next to my name it read “Revenue and Payroll”. Cool, “What am I doing?” I ask. “Revenue and Payroll” she equipped. Hmm, it was a very long two weeks.

There is a massive disconnect between the core skills universities teach and those required by employers. Universities tend to be rigid and theoretical in their approach. Had my manager presented me with a case study and the question, “How do you test the occurrence assertion in the salary line item”. Then that would be easy, it is my comfort zone where I reference my hypothetical manager and site control weaknesses. But the real world doesn’t work like that. Its practical and it’s versatile.

Moreover, I didn’t understand the task at hand; but I should have been equipped with the necessary skills to do so. It’s a changing world and very often we come across new problems in the workplace; problems we don’t know the answers to. That’s okay though, as long as we have the problem solving ability to do so. The ability to independently  source, interpret and implement knowledge.

Fast forward to graduation. Packed graduation hall, your family behind you; pretending they believed you’d make it all along. I remember looking around and noting that most of the peers I started with weren’t with us anymore. A lot of them were smarter than I was and yet they weren’t there. Over the next year I caught up with a few of them and common theme emerged. In South Africa, Talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not. Financial and societal factors meant that these peers were effectively robbed of the opportunity to further their studies.

At We Think Code we democratise education. Democratised in the sense that a discontent accountant can take a test online, quit his job two months later and pursue a career in software engineering. Or that a poor child that drop out of matric to support her family can take the same test and have equal opportunity to become a software engineer as this graduate accountant. Some of my smartest peers have little in the way of basic education but one month after Bootcamp they’re using advanced algebra in simulating 3D with ray-casting. Why? because their talent matched their opportunity.

We democratise education. Education that’s dynamic and demand driven. We’re completely funded by our clients, corporates; and we maintain a close relationship with them throughout. The skills they require are constantly communicated to us and we adapt the curriculum in accordance. JavaScript is the talk of the town now but how about six months from now. Static curriculums no longer suffice. We emphasise problem solving. I recreated the most basic functions from day one in an environment with no teachers because the most important skill is the ability to learn.

Tuition free. Financial assistance for transport and accommodation for those requiring it. Can you imagine the environment this creates? 120 students from vastly different backgrounds with their only commonality being their 1% aptitude. I have peers whose school fees were my tuck money. But I tell you what, when you democratise education privileged or not, you both start off googling “what is a pointer”.


Tumelo Motaung

Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Now, imagine a school where the fish’s inclination to genius is not defined by a tree, but by a high­-tech Olympic pond, tailored to the fish’s speed, its talents, and its physical attributes. Imagine a pond that allows the fish to be a fish but also compete with the monkey in the tree.

I go to this school. This school is WeThinkCode_.

In revolutionising education, WeThinkCode_ has done away with the traditional notion of teachers, and allowed the students a platform where they are the ones who teach.

When I was at University, I’d go to class, read through textbooks, and be tested on the amount of information I had stored in memory. That was how we learned.

Learning is different at WeThinkCode_. Google and github are your friends, so are the 120 students around you. Not only are there no lectures, but there is no awkwardness in asking the guy half your age for help. Campus is open 13 hours every day, and you get to draw up your own timetable.

At a normal university, the modules are set out for you. At WeThinkCode_ you get to work on what interests you the most, be it unix, graphics, or algorithm; and there are no limits for those of us who want to do everything.

Could a system that allows students so much freedom possibly work? It actually does. In the four weeks of the application Bootcamp, when you have a new task to complete every day and exams every week, the question you ask yourself isn’t if you want to become a successful Software Engineer, but rather, how badly you want it. Compromise and discipline are the order of the day.

You come in each morning, work on your projects, ask for help if you get stuck, and most importantly, do your corrections. Peer­-to-­peer corrections are at the core of the system. This is where you get to check your peer’s work, critique it, offer suggestions for improvement, and learn from how they solved the problem. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Another way in which WeThinkCode_ revolutionises education is through its link to industry. Not only are we learning, but we are given the opportunity to showcase these skills in real life when we do our internships with our corporate sponsors. This is can be seen as an alternative to the unemployed graduate dilemma faced by so of our young people. Why else do we learn if not to better our lives and the lives of those around us?

Now, imagine a world where we don’t only let the students be the teachers, but we offer them an education that is tailored to their individual needs, a holistic approach to learning. A world where learning does not mean pen, paper and a desk. Imagine a world where we are all empowered to solve our own problems. With WeThinkCode_ there’s no need to imagine.

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