Lombidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter
A young Zimbabwean residing in America has set up online coding classes for Zimbabweans with the aim of helping them get scholarships abroad.
Coding is basically a computer programming language that is used to create applications, websites, and programs. We wouldn’t have Facebook, our smartphones, the browser we use to read our favorite blogs, or even the sites themselves if they didn’t exist. Everything is controlled by code.
Mr. Eric Kumalo (26 years old) is a data scientist and privacy engineer at Good Research. Previously he worked at Twitter building tools to eliminate anti-spam on the platform. Before starting his university studies, he worked as an intern at American
The American Corner of the Embassy in Bulawayo. He has also taught in four schools including Chulucho and Nikita High School.
Inspired by a class in coding and computer science at a US university, the young man wants his experience to benefit talented students back home.
Emzini weCode started to share knowledge with Zimbabweans back home.
Mr. Kumalo is the founder and Principal Instructor of Emzini WeCode, an initiative focused on democratizing access to computer science education in sub-Saharan Africa. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Data Science from the University of California, Berkeley where he was a researcher at the MasterCard Foundation.
In an interview, Mr. Kumalo said he is motivated by a large number of things but mostly job creation and the improvement of his community.
“I find great joy and satisfaction in the tales that come with the prosperity and well-being of young people,” he said.
Mr. Kumalo said their goal as “Emzini weCode” is to register 1,200 Africans and 1,000 must be Zimbabweans.
“Our goal is to enroll 1,000 students from Zimbabwe in our class and 200 from other sub-Saharan countries. Classes will be delivered online in a way that greatly reduces the cost of data for our students.”
The total cost to attend the class is $1,676. However, scholarships are awarded to most if not all students, reducing the student’s contribution to just $6 for the entire course.
The online class will be offered from January 30 to April 29, 2022. There will be a mid-term exam and a final exam at the end of the CS7 course, Introduction to Programming and Computer Science.
Mr. Kumalo said Emzini WeCode also prepares teachers and mentors and helps its graduates obtain internships and full-time jobs.
They have graduate placements for training and work at companies such as Microsoft, Uber, LinkedIn, and Google.
Mr. Kumalo began teaching in January 2019 when he took a semester off from college.
“I will be hosting weekly tech workshops where I share the knowledge I gained from working for Silicon Valley companies and from school.
“The young people I interacted with and mentored had great ideas about innovations, but their ideas required a technical solution, so the lack of a strong foundational understanding of computer science was the stumbling block,” he said.
In the past, Mr. Kumalo has hosted classes in Bulawayo and some of his former students attend top universities in different countries.
“In May 2019, I started my first semester of CS7. I hosted lectures at the Bulawayo Public Library and got help with additional equipment and space for discussions from Nust American Space. I continued to mentor students who attended lectures until some of them went to college.
Kumalo said that more than 20 of his alumni classes attend institutions around the world, including schools like Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania.
“I also have a large number of interns studying at our local universities and pursuing fields related to computer science,” he said.
Mr. Kumalo said Emzini WeCode does not only offer one computer science semester.
“We have a number of advanced classes and workshops on artificial intelligence (artificial intelligence), machine learning and many other areas in computer science,” he said.
He added that Covid-19 has forced many aspects to digital transformation.
The Covid-19 virus has forced many aspects of our lives to go digital. I received two exclusive online offers in 2020 and 2021 where I taught 200 students in each session. When I launched my order online, my target was mostly Zimbabweans. However, due to the openness of social media, I received requests for registration from other students in Sub-Saharan countries. “I decided to enroll them and I had students from over 12 different countries,” said Mr. Kumalo.
He urged Zimbabweans to enroll in coding classes as it could be a way to realize their dreams of studying abroad.