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Parting thoughts from John, our outgoing CEO

As I finish my near eight year career with Camara Education, our wonderful communications team have asked me for one final blog. How can I possibly summarise into a short page what has been the greatest privilege of my professional career? I could talk about the work we do. However, like life, it’s not about the journey but the people you meet along the way. People that I have been very privileged to meet and who inspired and continue to inspire me.

People like Edom Mesfin who told me that one day she will be Prime Minister in Ethiopia:

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People like the students of Mbheni School in Mombasa, Kenya, who took to the streets to raise funds for their eLearning Centre so they could have a world class education:

Mbheni-Camara Walk For ICT 2

People like Asma Jabir, Head of Bondeni School who so succinctly and beautifully said ““Computers are important because it makes the world small”:

Asma Jabir, Head Teacher at Bondeni Primary School, Mombasa

People like Patience Kamuche in Mombasa, Kenya who told me that access to technology in school is helping her realise her dream of becoming a neurosurgeon:

Patience Kamuche from Ganjoni Primary School, Millionth Digital Literate Child

People like the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins who said “Digital technologies transform the teaching and learning experience as they open endless possibilities in classrooms. Wherever a student is learning around the world – access to a rich variety of digital resources can expand their horizon”:

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People like the late Demissew Bekele who was instrumental in Camara’s establishment in Ethiopia. Demissew had a desire to ensure every child worldwide had access to a quality education and was one of the most inspiring passionate people I ever met:


John it is just left for us to say thanks for your legacy, we will miss you and we hope we do you proud as Camara Education continues to grow and impact millions more children.


Launch of new e-learning centre in Shimelis Habte Secondary School in Addis Ababa

We recently launched a new elearning centre in Shimelis Habte Secondary School in Addis Ababa. This was done in conjunction with our partner Dell who has provided a grant of €520,000 in cash and computers as part of a €9.7m project to support 1,250 schools in Ethiopia. We received significant media coverage about this trip – you can read more on Ireland’s national broadcaster’s website here and in The Irish Independent here.


While there we met with quite a number of students who talked about the hugely positive impact a technology-enabled education was having on their lives. We caught up with Haregewoin Ababu, an 18 year old student we first met 4 years ago when she took part in a UNESCO-sponsored video. This video had to be conducted in Amharic as Hargewoin had limited English. Now she has fluent English, is preparing to go to university to study Computer Science and won a scholarship to study coding at weekends in a top college for 9 months. Of her experience with a Camara technology enabled education she had this to say:

“It has improved my life a lot. It has enhanced my interaction with my classmates and teachers. It makes school more interesting and has played a crucial role in enabling me to go to college.”






Inspirational and celebratory day for the young people and educators who participate in the TechSpace Programme

The first TechFéile event, took place at  Limerick School of Art & Design  on Friday 27 April 2018. The event centres around the Camara Education Ireland TechSpace Programme, which is aimed at encouraging creativity and technology among young Gaeltacht and Gaelscoileanna students. It was organised in association with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and TG4, as a celebration of Bliain na Gaeilge.

Over 200 students, from Gaeltacht Schools and Gaelscoileanna around Ireland took part in the event, to celebrate creativity through technology.

Workshops took place on a variety of topics across media and technology. Media workshops included Weather Workshops with TG4, Sports Commentary with Nemeton, Acting with Fíbín; Re-voicing Animation with Telegael, and Mojo with Nuacht TG4.  STEM Workshops on the day included, Circuit building with Moonfish, Programming with GráTek  and how to create a Hologram. Students attending also had an opportunity to try VR and Oculus Rift as well as 3D printing. Entertainment on the day was provided by the bands KILA and TOGRA.

The TechSpace programme has been running for 3 years under the auspices of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Alan Esslemont, Director General of TG4 says that supporting the development of new talent and stimulating creativity in youth is an integral part of the TG4 strategy. TechSpace is a fantastic project that supports creativity and communication skills with the young people taking part. Who knows maybe some of those who are taking part today will develop future proposals for TG4.

Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh, T.D. stated: ‘I am very proud of this event, TechFéile 2018, which is being funded by my Department for the first time this year. TechFéile 2018 has a great deal of importance and is a great opportunity in the way that the proposal allows young people to develop their imagination and creativity and to put the Irish language on display. Technology has a great deal of power in our everyday lives and this demonstrates the interest of teenagers in technology and they are very comfortable in the digital era in which we live today. So I am delighted that this proposal is having a huge impact on young people and putting the Irish language on an equal footing with English.

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Photo credits Mauricio Figueroa


Lá inspioráide agus ceiliúrtha do na daoine óga agus oideachasóirí a ghlacann páirt i gClár TechSpace

Ghlac ós cionn 200 dalta Gaelscoileanna agus Scoileanna Gaeltachta páirt sa gcéad TechFéile a bhí ar siúl sa Limerick School of Art & Design ar an Aoine 27 Aibreán.

Is ócáid í Techféile a d’eascair ón chlár TechSpace, atá á rith ag Camara Education Ireland i gcomhar leis an Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta agus é mar aidhm leis an chruthaíocht agus an teicneolaíocht a spreagadh i measc scoláirí óga Gaeltachta agus Gaelscoile.  Eagraíodh TechFéile i gcomhar le Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta agus TG4 mar chuid d’imeachtaí Bhliain na Gaeilge.

Ar an lá, cuireadh béim ar sárobair na ndaoine óga atá ag glacadh páirt i gClár TechSpace.    Ag eirí as an mana, Samhlaigh – Cruthaigh – Spreag, bhí béim ins na ceardlann ar réimsí na meán chumarsáide agus na teicneolaíochta.  I measc na gceardlanna Meáin, bhí Ceardlanna Aimsire le TG4, Tráchtaireacht Spóirt le Nemeton,  Aisteoireacht le Fíbín,  Athghuthú Cartúin le Telegael agus Iriseoireacht Físe le Nuacht TG4.  Cuireadh béim freisin cheardlanna Teicneolaíochta, ina measc Cruthú Ciorcaid le Moonfish, Códú ar iPad le Grátek,  cruthú Holograms agus dúshlán innealtóireachta le Lego Camps. Tugadh taispeántais ar an lá freisin do na daoine óga ar ghnéithe mar VR agus Oculus Rift a thriail chomh maith le priontáil 3D.  Bhí ceol bhreá ag an ócáid freisin ón mbanna ceoil KILA agus ó bhanna ceoil TOGRA ó Phobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne.

Tá an clár TechSpace á rith le 3 bhliana faoi scáth na Roinne Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta.

Deir Alan Esslemont, Ardstiúrthóir TG4, gurcuid lárnach de straitéis TG4 í tacú le talann nua a fhorbairt agus an chruthaíocht a spreagadh i measc an óige.  Is togra iontach í TechSpace a thugann tacaíocht le scileanna sa gcruthaíocht, agus sa chumarsáid a fhorbairt leis an aos óg.  Cá bhfios ná go mbeidh cuid acu seo atá ag glacadh páirte inniu ag forbairt tograí do TG4 amach anseo.

Dúirt an tAire Stáit don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do na hOileáin, Joe McHugh, T.D.,‘Tá an-luacháir orm go bhfuil an ócáid seo, ócáid TechFéile 2018, de chuid Clár TechSpace atá á mhaoiniú ag mo Roinn á rith don chéad uair i mbliana.  Is iontach an tábhacht agus an deis atá ag baint le TechFéile 2018 sa bhealach go dtugann an togra deis don aos óg a gcuid samhlaíochta agus cruthaitheachta a fhorbairt agus an Ghaeilge a chur ar thaispeántas. Tá an-chuid cumhacht ag an teicneolaíocht inár saol laethúil agus taispeánann sé seo an suim atá ag déagóirí i gcúrsaí teicneolaíochta agus iad go mór ina gcompord sa ré dhigiteach ina maireann muid inniu.  Mar sin cuireann sé ríméad orm go bhfuil an togra seo ag dul i bhfeidhm go mór ar an aos óg agus an Ghaeilge á chur ar chomhchéim leis an mBéarla sa saol digiteach.’

Mat and Steven

UNESCO Mobile Learning Week

Mat and Steven

The last week in March was a busy one in Camara Education with Steven, our Head of Income and Partnerships, and Mathieu, our Head of Education, travelling to UNESCO Mobile Learning Week in Paris.

The conference, held in UNESCO headquarters, is an opportunity for people from all over the world to come together and discuss all things ICT in Education in the developing world.

A huge number of nationalities were represented, with everyone from teachers from the Beijing Royal School, to the Kenyan Minister of ICT!

On the Monday morning, alongside with the Director of ICT for the Government of Indonesia, the Senior Vice-President of Weidong Cloud Education Group, the Vice Rector for continuing education of Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia and representatives from UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, Mathieu participated in the workshop called Teacher Skills in a connected world: ICT competency for the transformation of teaching and learning. The main goal of this Workshop was to share innovative pedagogical approaches and teachers’ management and professional development methods based on ICT use.

The Workshop has featured examples of responses to the new ICT-based educational environment and has offered the opportunity to interrogate the models of emerging approaches and practices for teaching and learning from the network of the UNESCO International Teacher Task Force for Education 2030. The workshop has collected feedback on the potential for scaling up the examples presented and their replicability to other contexts. The result of this workshop will be used by the UNESCO Task Force Working Group to pursue its action towards the increase of qualified teachers and the improvement of teaching for better learning outcomes.

Mathieu presented to a packed room on the Camara Learning Academy, our new online teacher training platform. Since its launch in 2016 we have already trained over 1,000 teachers in courses varying from the ‘Basics of ICT’ to ‘Leadership and change for ICT implementation in a school’. Participants to the workshop highlighted the relevance of Camara’s initiatives to overcome the barriers faced by teachers and also pinpointed that Camara’s approach (Hardware, Software, Warmware) is one if not the only way such intervention can be successful.

The conference was also a really good chance to sit down with some of our existing partners and brainstorm for future projects. The team from Learning Equality (LE) were over, leading to lots of conversations about exciting potential new projects similar to the Maths component of the ZamSTEM project we are delivering in Zambia. Using ‘Kolibri’ LE’s online content platform we will be working to improve numeracy outcomes in 10 Zambian schools as part of a larger Irish Aid funded project. The overall project will reach over 75 schools and training more than 400 teachers, improving computer literacy skills and numeracy skills for Zambian students.

Exciting times ahead!


NUI Cert Student Group

New Year, New Innovation: Educators Begin Level 8 Certificate in Digital Creativity at Maynooth University

NUI Cert Student Group

In January, Camara Education Ireland celebrated an exceptional milestone with the start of the ‘NUI Certificate in Digital Creativity in Youth Settings’, designed and delivered in partnership with the Department of Applied Social Studies at Maynooth University.

Eleven youth workers and educators began a pioneering 10 month, level 8 certificate programme designed for those who wish to develop a specialism in the emerging field of digital creativity in youth settings. Through 100 hours of tuition students are learning to use technology as a tool to enhance learning activities for young people.

Professor Maurice Devlin, Head of the Department of Applied Social Studies said, “We live in a world where new technologies, social media and instantaneous global communication have become an integral part of our daily lives. These transformations are all underpinned by developments in the STEM disciplines. But many people, even those who make abundant use of new technological opportunities, have only a superficial knowledge of how they work, and perhaps even less understanding of the underlying science. It is very important that everyone is enabled to be digitally competent. But to be able to avail of all the opportunities presented to us today, and respond to all the challenges we face, it is necessary to go beyond this and become digitally creative. This ground-breaking certificate programme opens up that possibility for those who work with young people, so that it can also be extended to young people themselves. We’re delighted in the Department of Applied Social Studies at MU, where youth work is one of our core specialisms, to be working in partnership with Camara on such a timely and exciting initiative.”

The programme is unique in Europe and utilises an innovative learning approach to develop digital creativity among young people in youth settings. The programme addresses the continuous professional development (CPD) needs of the youth and non-formal education sector by developing youth workers’ and educators’ abilities to work creatively through technology with young people in diverse settings.  The first cohort of students are some of the most passionate and innovative youth educators in Ireland. They come from an exciting mix of backgrounds; from youth theatre, vocational education, national youth work organisations, a start-up STEM education business for schools and youth workers working through the medium of Irish.

Students will be equipped with specialist digital and STEM skills to design and deliver projects for young people. These specialists will be key to enhancing young people’s futures by enabling them to build key 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, as well as digital and technology literacies and technical skills.

Dr. Hilary Tierney, Academic Director of the certificate programme said, “The programme is a valuable addition to the Department’s range of certificate programme designed to respond to the community work and youth work sectors professional development needs. We are delighted to welcome students from all over the country to participate in this unique learning experience in Maynooth University. We are impressed with their enthusiasm, engagement, commitment and creativity”.

The certificate covers seven fundamental competencies to effectively deliver digital and STEM projects in youth settings. Each competency will develop the participants’ knowledge of digital creativity learning models and build their skills to confidently use digital and STEM frameworks, models, approaches and tools to ignite creative confidence in young people. Between June and October, students will undertake an applied project where they put in to practice their newly developed competencies in a youth setting.

Janice Feighery, Camara’s Education Programme Director said, “The curriculum is underpinned by an educational philosophy that promotes non-formal, experiential learning central to good youth development practice. This will include the deployment of a framework to strategically integrate educational technology in youth and community organisations, supported by an established pedagogical approach to digital creativity in youth work”.

The certificate culminates in October with a student exhibition event. Students will showcase their applied projects to demonstrate their new specialism for designing and delivering innovative, digital creativity projects for young people. This new programme is an evolution of the work of TechSpace and we’re excited to partner with Maynooth University on this new venture and look forward to our first graduates of the programme!


Demissew Bekele

Demissew became the Chief Advisor of Camara Ethiopia in 2011, and prior to this, was instrumental in Camara’s establishment in Ethiopia. He worked for the Ministry of Education for over 38 years, mostly within the Educational Media Agency (EMA), as a radio producer, head of the radio panel, a television producer, and then head of television in 1978. Demissew joined Cornell University to study an MSc in Communications and returned to Ethiopia becoming Head of the EMA in 1993, retiring after 17 years to join Camara Education Ethiopia. Demissew served as Chief Advisor to Camara Education Ethiopia until 2017. Demissew sadly passed away in January and here follows an obituary written by Camara Education’s CEO, John Fitzsimons.

I woke up on the 12th of January and checked my phone to uncover some very sad news. The message from my colleague in Ethiopia, Yared Ayele, was short and sweet; “Demissew passed away early this morning”. My heart sank. Minutes later I was called into my five year old son’s room as he awoke. I nearly tripped up on a t-shirt on the floor outside. It was a blue t-shirt with a picture of Lalibela, the famous Ethiopian location; a gift from the wonderful Demissew. I went down to make breakfast, opened up the presses where the cups and mugs are kept and found a selection of Ethiopian cups to choose from. All gifts from one of the most generous and kind people I have ever met; Demissew Bekele. Despite earning a relatively meagre salary from Camara Ethiopia, Demissew used all means possible to share kindness in the world.


When I first met Demissew in Ethiopia, despite our very different backgrounds, I knew I met a kindred spirit. Like myself he was very passionate about giving children the opportunity they deserve and specifically technology’s role in education. I also quickly discovered that he possessed an Irish-esque talent for poetry. For every visit and every occasion there was a wonderful poem from Demissew. His highlight was when one of his poems about the work of Camara was published in the national newspaper in Ethiopia:

Walk Tall

One thing I am delighted that Demissew did get to do was to visit Ireland. When he visited the Camara workshop in Dublin and meet the volunteers refurbishing computers, he was literally brought to tears. He was completely bowled over witnessing Irish people giving their time, even sweeping the floor, for the benefit of children in his own country. He insisted on thanking each volunteer personally. As part of his visit I got to bring Demissew on a day trip to Glendalough, County Wicklow with my young children. We had a wonderful day out and it was lovely seeing my children playing and bonding with this amazing human being. Both clearly made an impression on Demissew as they were renamed “Jack the Ethiopian” and “Ella my Mother”! He later explained the naming: “Jack, the Ethiopian is strong, can withstand any falls and my mother Ella, who never accepts dependency, are life examples to be strong enough to be independent. The two together need each other to be strong and independent… a lesson for all of us.” A poem of course also ensued:


On that morning recently, when I told my kids that Demissew had passed away, they started to cry. Such was the impact this man had on them that they felt so sad with the loss. Demissew was like that; no matter what colour, creed or age, he had a profound impact on us all. Life is not about the destination but those you meet along the way.

The greatest way we can mark Demissew’s life is to follow through and deliver on his desires; ensuring each child everywhere has a world-class education.


Highlights from our 2016 M&E exercise

In 2016, Camara Education worked with 1,031 schools, trained 7,816 educators and distributed over 10,600 computers. As a result, 225,542 learners were impacted through our Social Enterprise activities.

Camara Education recently conducted a monitoring and evaluation exercise in selected partner schools in Africa and Ireland. The evaluation surveyed 96 schools in Africa and 40 schools/youth centres in Ireland, including 106 educators and 1,587 learners from Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Zambia. The main purpose was to assess the relevance, effectiveness, and impact of activities carried out by Camara hubs in 2016. The exercise mainly focused on measuring Key Performance Indicators including the length of computer lab access and usage by learners and educators, computer share between learners, and the impact of Camara provided training on educators. The satisfaction levels of school leaders, educators, and learners on Camara-provided services and Camara hubs’ performance were also part of the survey.

Access to Camara provided computers

The length of timetable access of computers by learners for 2016 was 98 minutes per week on average, showing a 7% increase from 2015.  











Chart 1: Reported access to computers by learners (in minutes/week)

Comparatively, the lowest access was reported from Ethiopia with 79 minutes per week. However, Ethiopia registered the biggest improvement in terms of access to a 20% increase from 2015. Both Kenya and Tanzania’s hubs also registered a 10% and 12% increase in access respectively. The longest access was reported from Zambia with 108 minutes per week though it has decreased by 9 minutes from 2015. A closer look at our data shows that this decrease in access is in line with the decrease in one computer per student ratio. In fact, the results obtained in terms of computer share between learners seem to show a direct relationship with the length of computer access by learners, i.e learners who did not share a computer with others reported longer access time than those who shared a computer with at least one other learner.

Computer share between learners


Computer sharing is a major factor that influences the quality of computer access and length of usage by learners. In 2016, 29% of learners enjoyed using a computer without sharing it, while 71% had to share with at least one other student.

Compared to 2015, the percentage of learners that did not have to share a computer increased by 11%, and the percentage of learners that shared a computer with at least one other student decreased by 11%. As seen in the access section, there appears to be a direct link between length of access and computer share between learners. Overall, there is a trend of less computer sharing between learners, and more learners are accessing computers without the need to share. 



Chart 2: Reported computer share by learners


Computer usage by Educators



In 2016, the average length of Camara-trained educator’s computer usage for teaching was 175 minutes per week. On the other side, usage by educators who did not attend the Camara training was 128 minutes per week. This represents a 36% longer usage among trained educators compared those who did not attend the Camara training.





Chart 3: Reported usage of eLearning centres by educators

image008The results of the survey also show that computer usage among Camara-trained educators increased by 7% from 2015 and by 17% from 2014. This indicates that more Camara-trained educators are using ICT for teaching.





Chart 4: Computer usage among Camara trained educators

The Camara-provided training has also had an impact on the confidence and ability level of educators. Of the 109 educators who rated their ICT use confidence 6 or more out of 10, 64% had attended the Camara training. Similarly, 66% of those who rated their ICT use ability 6 or more attended the Camara training.







Chart 5: ICT use confidence and ability among surveyed educators

Camara’s Overall Performance

According to the surveyed school leaders, the overall performance of Camara hubs for 2016 was 84%, an improvement of 6% from 2015 and 8% from 2014. ‘Attitude of Camara staff’ was the highest scoring performance area with 93%, followed by ‘Ease of communicating with Camara’ and ‘Understanding the schools need’ both scoring 89%. On the other end, ‘Provision of relevant training’ was the lowest scoring performance area with 74%.

 Data collected from Ethiopia, Ireland, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia hubs

Chart: Performance scores for Camara hub

Compared to 2015, six of the 10 performance areas showed an improvement. These include the provision of quality support (20% improvement), the meeting of agreed deadlines (13% improvement), and timely resolution of problems the school have had (12% improvement). On the contrary, three performance areas showed a decrease from 2015, ‘Provision of relevant training’ showing the largest decrease with 7%. Table 1 below shows the details.


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Table 1: Changes in performance areas (2015 – 2016)

To summarize, access and use of Camara-provided computers have increased among learners and educators. The percentage of students that reported using a computer without having to share it with other students also increased from previous years. When it comes to the impact of Camara-provided training for educators, Camara-trained educators reported using ICT for teaching longer than those who did not attend the training. ICT use for teaching among Camara-trained educators had also increased from previous years. In terms of Camara’s overall performance, an increase of 6% from 2015 and 8% from 2014 was reported by the surveyed school leaders.  

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President of Ireland Presides over Presentation of Camara’s 100,000th computer to local school in Dublin

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Camara Education was abuzz with excitement this week, when President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina paid a visit, to preside over the presentation of Camara’s 100,000th computer to St. Patrick’s National School, Chapelizod, Dublin.

President Higgins said: “I just think the work of Camara is so important. It is a form of literacy really, that every child would have access to a computer. One of the most important moral issues of our time is the forms in which science and technology will impact our lives, and the importance in delivering advances in science and technology and intelligence in a way that the largest numbers of people will have their lives enhanced rather than endangered. We’re standing here today and celebrating a very important event in Camara’s story.

Addressing the children directly he said “You children are part of that story. You will able to say that ‘We were there when the 100,000th computer was in fact put into action’.”

The President also had some words of advice to the children on cyber-bullying.

“I have one special point – never, ever, allow anyone to be excluded in your group and never ever allow new technology to be used to bully somebody or to make somebody who is already perhaps marginal, even more marginalised. “In your generation people have to be careful about how technology is used. So it should be used as a piece of excitement and wonderment and to enjoy it. I so wish you all very, very well as you enjoy these new instruments.”

And to Camara, the President said: “You’re creating hope. You’re making a hopeful future. I so appreciate what you’ve achieved.”

In a final address, Camara CEO John Fitzsimmons also asked something of the children assembled: “I do ask one thing of you… that every Camara computer that comes into the school, I want it used everyday and every hour and do some incredible work with it every time. Can you do that?

There were resounding shouts of “Yes!”.

John went on to draw attention to another important reason the President was visiting the school, to launch Camara’s ReuseIT campaign for Ethiopia.

“Today as well as our 100,000th computer, we have a very significant programme in Ethiopia. We are providing 30,000 computers to ethiopian schools over three years and we’re halfway there. But we need loads more computers.

“We have half a million kids like you guys here today waiting in Ethiopian schools with no computers and we have to get them what they need, so that they can do the amazing work that we saw in the classroom today.

“So I’m asking everybody in the public, businesses, people – get them to us, because we have all these students that really need this life opportunity. Also we have hit 2 million kids to date in the last 12 years, but between now and 2020 we want to turn 2 million into 5 million. The need is so great, we need to address that need. So we need all your help in achieving that.

“Finally, I’d just like to thank, sincerely and from my heart our special guest today. We are very fortunate to have the President as a Patron of Camara. He is what we would call a kindred spirit. He believes in the power of technology – he believes that poverty in Africa should not be there in the 21st century and he has seen today what can happen when you put resources with really talented kids.”

Creative TechFest @ The Foundry 2016-91

Digital and STEM Stars Rising: 300 Young People celebrated at Creative Tech Fest national showcase and awards

Creative TechFest @ The Foundry 2016-91National showcase and awards with over 300 young people recognised for their achievements in STEM and Digital Media with a performance by Delorentos.

Creative Tech Fest will play host to 300 young people from youth clubs and schools from all over Ireland as they gather in Google’s state of the art venue, The Foundry, to celebrate their passion for creative and STEM technologies.

Now in it’s fifth year, Creative Tech Fest showcases young people’s achievements in digital media, music, 3D Design, na méain Gaeilge as well as inventive Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) activities.Young people will be at the heart of all the action as they exhibit their own work and take part in interactive workshops – all while being inspired by guest speakers and live performances.

The line up this year includes Eleanor Mannion, multimedia journalist, on the advances in mobile journalism, Sue McGrath from Science2Life and an intimate live performance by Delorentos. A diverse selection of workshops from Google, the Science Gallery and Fíbín, to name but a few, offer young people the opportunity to experience the creative industries first hand.

Eleanor Mannion, speaking ahead of the event said; “I am so excited to speak at Creative Tech Fest especially because I get to meet the next generation of creators, inventors and innovators. Our young people are so inspiring and I know I will learn as much, if not more from them, then they will from me.”

Ciara Beth, a youth participant and one of this year’s co-hosts from Foróige Galway City Youth Café says “TechSpace is a safe space, where I’m free to create media that represents my thoughts and opinions. I’m thrilled to be one of the co-hosts for this years Creative Tech Fest. I’ve attended Tech Test before and the standard of work is always amazing. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us!!

For the first time this year, young people who are involved in the ambitious new ‘STEM in Youth Work Maker Project’ will have the opportunity to celebrate and showcase their STEM skills at the Creative Tech Fest. The STEM in Youth Work Maker Project, a joining of forces between the National Youth Council of Ireland and Camara Education Ireland, funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland will feature prominently as part of the Creative Tech Fest programme by inspiring the young people to create and invent with confidence and curiosity, and increase engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Clár TechSpace, continuing its success and now in it’s second year, will have a strong presence at the event this year with opportunities for young people to take part in Irish language workshops and exhibitions. Young people’s creative technology projects in the Irish language will also feature with support from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications, Science Foundation Ireland, said:

“Science Foundation Ireland is pleased to support Creative Tech Fest, as it is great event to showcase young people’s passion, creativity and achievements in digital media, music, 3D design and many more areas of technology. It is through events like this that we introduce young people to the wide-ranging opportunities in the Tech sector and encourage them to consider future careers in STEM.  I want to congratulate all of the young people who participated and the organisers on a fantastic event.”

Mary Cunningham, Director, National Youth Council of Ireland, said:

“The National Youth Council of Ireland is delighted to be involved in this exciting celebration of youth workers and young people who have been taking part in the STEM in Youth Work Maker project. Through the project 112 youth workers have been trained and an estimated 2,000 young people have now had the chance to learn STEM in new and really fun ways, outside of school! We are particularly pleased that young people who previously may have been considered as being less likely to engage with STEM or take up further education and careers in STEM are being reached through this project.”

Pat O’Doherty, Head of ESB, said:

“ESB is delighted to support TechSpace. Here at the Creative Tech Fest, we see the next generation of creators, innovators and problem solvers in action, showcasing the skills that will drive Ireland’s future economy and society. This is a day to celebrate their achievements and fire their imaginations.”

The Importance of Teaching Coding

With the advent of the upcoming Africa Code Week (ACW) which is going to be rolling out across the African continent, we wanted to give you a glimpse of the reasons why Camara Education Ethiopia is keen on its implementation within Ethiopia and how it‘s partnering with ACW to make that a reality and impactful within the learners community in Ethiopia.

According to ACW, the movement to teach coding to young learners started with the idea to bridge the digital skill gap that will be present in the next 25 years within the African continent. This means that as the population growth booms, the digital technical knowhow that these generations have will feature a large gap between those who have access and those who don’t.  This movement thus partnered up with leading technology companies to teach coding to young learners across the African continent on a yearly basis. This is done through the use of open source visual coding software called Scratch that young learners can use to have an understanding of coding and build small applications through it.

As Camara Education Ethiopia is working to improve access to more streamlined education through the use of technology, it was the perfect initiative to be part of.  We, as an organisation, are working on building better stocked and efficient e-learning centers across schools in Ethiopia. Until now, 460,790 learners in 1054 schools across 5 regions were able to take advantage of the integration of technology into the classroom. Overall, 7242 educators and school leaders were able to take part in our capacity building training as part of delivering 25,918 computers into these schools.

Our partnership with ACW started 3 years ago when we were an organising partner for East Africa. We have organised Africa Code Week events in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia. In the last two years, Camara Education was able to train over 25,000 learners across Ethiopia.

This year we are also gearing up to reach more schools and engage more learners across the country and thus expose young learners to coding. Over the next 2 weeks, we will be conducting Teach-the-Trainer sessions for 28 educators from 11 schools in Robe, Bale Zone (Oromia), for 15 educators from 4 schools in Fitche Zone (Oromia), 23 educators from 10 schools in Oromia Special Zone, 21 trainees in 6 schools  in Ensaro Zone (Amhara), 44 educators from 20 schools in Addis Ababa, 43 educators in 20 schools in Silte Zone (SNNPR), 43 educators in 20 schools in Gurage Zone (SNNPR), and 43 educators in 20 schools in Wolayta Zone (SNNPR). In total, we will train 260 trainees in 111 schools.

These trained educators will be conducting their own coding sessions in their respective schools during the actual live continent wide Coding session from October 17 – October 25. During this week, we expect 333 coding sessions in 111 schools through which 50,000 learners will be training in basic coding.

Our activities are already rolling out with our work in training educators across the regions in preparation for the actual Africa Code Week event which will be from October 17 – October 25.

For more information on our related activities within this month check out our social media platforms on Twitter, Vimeo, Instagram and Facebook. For more information on the Africa Code Week check their website here. To check out the software that’s used for teaching coding you can check out their website here which comes bundled with all the computers that Camara Education Ethiopia provides to schools within its intervention areas.