Posted on November 02, 2019

The Tasmu Coders’ Hour of Code programme, an initiative of the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, launched on Thursday by Her Excellency Reem Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary for the Digital Society Development Sector at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and HE Dr Ibrahim bin Saleh bin Khalifa al-Nuaimi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, on the sidelines of the Qatar Information Technology Conference & Exhibition (QITCOM 2019) which ended on November 1.

The event also witnessed the presentation of prizes and certificates by HE Dr Ibrahim bin Saleh al-Nuaimi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to the winners of the Tasmu Coders’ inaugural Codefest competition held for primary, preparatory and secondary schools’ students in Qatar on October 30 and 31. A total of 20 contestants each, competed in the Primary and Preparatory schools’ categories while 28 students contested in the secondary school category.

Tasmu Coders is primarily about encouraging young people to engage in coding and the initiative includes Hour of Code, Codefest and Girls Can Innovate. Participants in the primary school category of Codefest were tested for speed and efficiency in the Scratch progamming language while the preparatory school category competitors tested their skills in Lego MindStorm Robotics kit. The secondary school category students, however, were tested for their dexterity with the Python programming language.

Abdulrahman Mohammed from Saad bin Moath Boys School emerged winner in the Primary School category while Khaled Waleed School from Alzubair Bin Alawam Boys School and Yosra Sultan from Alkhansa Primary school for Girls School were the first and second runners-up respectively. For the Preparatory School category, Alzubair Nashwan from Abu BakirAlsidek School came out tops while Abdullah Sherif also from Abu BakirAlsidek School and Yamen Assem from Hamza Preparatory School emerged second and third respectively. MazenAlsayed from Tareq Bin Zeyad School won the Secondary School category while Ahmed Yousef from Ali Bin Jassim emerged second and Ahmed EssamAldin also from Ali Bin Jassim School came third.  Each of the winners were rewarded with trophies, certificates and prize money.

Codefest, proposed to be an annual event, is a national competition designed to create a platform for young minds to tap into their ICT knowledge and skills. The goal of the competition is to foster and promote interests in digital technology among school children in line with TASMU’s vision of a Smart Qatar.

The annual competition is planned to be the culminating event for the MoTC’s Hour of Code initiative, which is a series of events repeated in different schools that is aimed at promoting coding as a key skill of the future within the school and the wider community.  Hour of Code seeks to create opportunities for the young people in Qatar to explore their interest and develop their skills in coding. Schools that volunteer to take part will be offered the opportunity to host a 2-hour event at their school in the presence of local media. Children will undertake one hour of coding as a staged event alongside others who will be part of the program e.g. the school principle, a VIP Ambassador, a young Qatari Role Model and school teachers.

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For the initiative, two new schools will be selected every month to participate in the initiative which runs throughout the academic calendar. Each selected school will be assigned a young Qatari Role Model, who will play a vital role in connecting the school with the Ambassador, and act as the Master of Ceremony during the Hour of Code event. The schools will then sign a pledge to commit to engaging a minimum number of students for at least one hour in coding activities. At the end of the year, the outstanding students are then invited to take part in the Codefest to be held annually.

Commenting on the occasion, Her Excellency Reem Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary for the Digital Society Development Sector at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said: “The Ministry is delighted with the success of the first edition of the Codefest competition as well as the increasing interest in the Hour of Code initiative. It is gratifying to see our young programmers displaying their skills at this competition which is in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 of building a diversified knowledge-based economy that is predicated on developing the skills of the people. We believe that this competition will aid in generating more interest in coding activities among our young ones as well as helping them in taking up IT as a career choice.”

Meanwhile, the finals of the Girls Can Innovate competition, which involved four shortlisted group of girls pitching ideas for innovative mobile apps, was also held on the day with the group comprising RawdaAlhor from Carnegie Mellon University and Muneera Al Baker from Albayan Secondary School who showcased the "Kashkha" app, a one-stop shop app for abaya and several branded clothes, emerging the winners.

Girls Can Innovate is aimed at stimulating innovation and creativity in girls, aged 15-22, to produce digital solutions to problems facing their communities in specific areas. The competitions, held in September and October, were focused on seven categories: Fintech Applications, E-agriculture, E-health and Smart water management, Digital Services, Road Safety, and Rural Productivity.  The winners of the September and October competitions competed for the QITCOM Girls Can Innovate prize by presenting their projects to a panel of judges at QITCOM. 

The second place went to Qatar University's Anjoud Al Rumaihi, Batool Al Dehneen and Noor Khalafy, who presented QFarmers app, a delivery app for fresh and packed food products.

The other two ideas pitched at the event were "Mwaidi", a medical appointment booking app presented by Alaa Sobhy, Basma Khalid, Mariam Abdulmohsein and Ayah Mohammed, all from Rawdat Rashid Girls School, and "Uninf" - an app offering information on universities and faculties for students to choose their major courses and learn more about it before signing up, presented by Lulwa Al Merri, Salmah Al Merri, Wafaa Al Merri and Alanoud Al Merri also from Rawdat Rashid Girls School.

The competition comes as part of the International Girls Day 2019 celebration, an initiative launched by the International Telecoms Union (ITU) in 2011 to enable girls around the world to leverage their interest in ICT and pursue studies and careers in STEM fields.