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, was launched during the recently-held Qatar Information Technology Conference & Exhibition (Qitcom 2019).
Reem al-Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary for the Digital Society Development Sector at the MoTC, and Dr Ibrahim bin Saleh bin Khalifa al-Nuaimi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, led the launch ceremony on the sidelines of Qitcom.
During the event, Dr al-Nuaimi presented prizes and certificates to the winners of the Tasmu Coders’ inaugural Codefest competition held for primary, preparatory and secondary school students in Qatar.
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; 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 the Lego MindStorm Robotics kit.
The secondary school category students, on the other hand, were tested for their dexterity with the Python programming language.
Abdulrahman Mohamed from Saad bin Moath Boys’ School emerged as the winner in the Primary School category, while Khaled Waleed from Alzubair Bin Alawam Boys’ School and Yosra Sultan from Alkhansa Primary School for Girls were the first and second runners-up, respectively.
In the Preparatory School category, Alzubair Nashwan from Abu Bakir Alsidek School topped the competition, while Abdullah Sherif - also from Abu Bakir Alsidek School - and Yamen Assem from Hamza Preparatory School emerged second and third, respectively.
Mazen Alsayed from Tareq Bin Zeyad School won in the Secondary School category, while Ahmed Yousef from Ali Bin Jassim School emerged second and Ahmed Essam Aldin - also from Ali Bin Jassim School - came third.
Each of the winners was 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 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 two-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 programme, for example the school principal, a VIP ambassador, a young Qatari role model and schoolteachers.
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 invited to take part in the Codefest to be held annually.
“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 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,” al-Mansoori said
The finals of the Girls Can Innovate competition, which involved four shortlisted groups of girls pitching ideas for innovative mobile apps, was also held on the day. The group comprising Rawda Alhor 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, emerged as the winners.
Girls Can Innovate is aimed at stimulating innovation and creativity in girls aged 15 to 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 contests 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 Mohamed, 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. This was 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 in ICT Day 2019 celebration, an initiative launched by the International Telecommunication Union in 2011 to enable girls around the world to leverage their interest in ICT and pursue studies and careers in STEM fields.
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