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22 Jul 2020

Coding, creativity and freedom

Khouribga & Benguerir

The open-to-all coding school helping young African talent shape their future.

 

A school that’s designed to tap into students’ natural creativity, to develop their tech skills and prepare them to tackle the biggest challenges that society is facing… and it’s all for free?

Welcome to 1337. Africa’s first coding and IT school that’s open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 30, as long as they have a passion for creative problem solving.

Launched in the mining town of Khouribga, 1337 started in 2018 and its popularity and success meant that a sister facility was opened in Benguerir in 2019. Students have come from across the continent for the opportunity to learn in the world-class facilities and benefit from the school’s project-based, peer-learning structure, and their dedication has encouraged OCP to plan for more 1337 schools to open across Africa.

We look at what 1337 has given students Chaimae and Amine and why Yasser Boux, 1337’s teaching manager, is so excited about what’s to come.

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Coding is about freedom and creativity

See what Chaimae gained from 1337

 

Chaimae’s friends were surprised when she decided to move to the quiet town of Khouribga to go to 1337. 

“Coding for me means freedom. This is why it is so exciting. Nothing can make you as free as building something unique from the ground up. Coding is often seen as a man’s profession, but it isn’t, it’s a creative profession. I wanted to show my friends and family that if you’re interested in something, you can do it.” 

Like many students at 1337, Chaimae found the flexible learning style at the school appealing. 

“I love that 1337 gives you the freedom to learn however suits you best. You can explore the niche areas that interest you, while also developing skills to get a job in the future,” she says.

“The way we learn is so applicable to the real world – rather than getting solutions, you get the tools and processes to solve problems yourself. It is so much more rewarding, and makes learning like a mystery, where every problem is an exciting new journey.”

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I’m planning to build my own cyber security company

See how Amine discovered his potential at 1337

 

For Amine, studying Computer Science at a ‘normal’ university just wasn’t enjoyable. 

“The syllabus didn’t fit my needs and interests, which made it hard to pay attention and put in the work,” he says.

However, 1337’s structure was completely different.

“When I first saw ads for 1337, it looked too good to be true,” adds Amine. 

“As it is, the free-form, non-syllabus learning program fits my personality and way of learning perfectly! I believe that if you find something that interests you, and you’re able to follow it, your understanding and skillset will grow to your full potential.”

Amine says: “For me, learning at 1337 wasn’t just about getting a job at the end, it was about developing personally. Now I feel excited for the future! I hope to set up my own cyber security business, so I can use everything 1337 has taught me. The program has given me a clear path forward.”

African talent using coding to problem-solve – that’s truly exciting

Here’s why teaching manager, Yasser Boux, believes in 1337 

 

“The future prosperity of Africa lies with the next generation, and education is vital,” says Yasser Boux, who manages 1337. 

“This is why 1337 was created – with innovation at our core and a peer-learning environment for collaborative development.”

The application process, from an online test to a four-week coding immersion program called La Piscine (The Pool), gives students an insight into what studying at 1337 is like. 

Boux says: “We select people for their problem-solving and analytical skills, plus their commitment to work together and to work hard. This place is fun and funky, but the students here also work relentlessly and passionately. Our site is open 24 hours a day to accommodate the students’ preferred working schedules – whether it’s in the middle of the night or during the day.

The decision to have no curriculum sets 1337 apart.

“The program adapts to the evolving world of technology and interests of the students,” says Boux.

“Throughout the course, we encourage students to take internships and placements with leading tech companies. Many students want to form their own start-ups, so we could be looking at the start of North African tech clusters!”

OCP plans to triple the size of the school next year. Coupled with its sister facility in Benguerir, plus other campuses in Youssoufia and Safi, Boux looks forward to spreading 1337’s impact across Africa. 

“That is truly exciting – African talent using coding to solve problems and create opportunity!”

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Digital tools and understanding should be accessible to all – this is at the heart of 1337.

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