The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has organised a hackathon competition to develop solutions that employ child-centred approach towards finding solutions to problems around Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
A hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects.
The initiative dubbed: ‘UNICEF Hackathon’, which is being run concurrently in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale; provides a platform for young people with any technical skills like website creation, graphic design, engineering and others, to create solutions using technology.
It highlights on SDG 3 (Health and Welbeing), SDG 4 (Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 6 (Water and Sanitation), SDG 8 (Descent work and Economic Growth), SDG 10 (Reduce inequalities) and SDG 13 (Climate Change).
According to UNICEF, by 2030 there would be two billion young women and men seeking opportunities for a bright future throughout the world.
The UN agency believes that with education, skills and empowerment, these young people would help transform economies and nations; but a fast-changing global economy demands increasingly specialise skills at a time when many education systems are struggling.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Antoinette Gyan, Communication Officer in-charge of Brand and Youth Engagement at UNICEF Ghana, recounted that ‘Generation Unlimited’ (GU), was launched at the UN General Assembly in September, 2018.
She said GU was a global partnership that aims to ensure that every young person was in education, learning, getting skills and employed by 2030.
Mrs Gyan said UNICEF realised that young people had lots of potentials and they could transform nations and economies, but over the years the potentials of young people had not been tapped.
She said UNICEF was therefore, seeking partnerships with private sector, academia and all stakeholders to ensure they tap the potentials of these young people.
She said the winners of the hackathon would be featured in the upcoming African Youth SDG Summit slated for November 7th to 9th, to showcase their ideas on effectively delivering results for children.
Mrs Gyan said, she was hopeful that young people would come up with solutions that UNICEF technical team could work with to develop something that could transform the economy and the world.
“We also hope that we will find some innovative ideas from young people in Ghana, which they will pitch to a jury during the Youth SDGs Summit”, she added.
Dr Gordon Kwesi Adomdza, Founding-lead of Ashesi Design Lab, an innovation hub, described UNICEF Hackathon 2018 as a preparation towards the African Youth SDG Summit.
He said at Ashesi Design Lab their methodology was about design thinking, and therefore, helps students, faculty and staff working on projects by providing a project consulting role; helping them utilize design thinking for their research.
He said participants would be taking through a structured design thinking process, and were expected to have clarity on the SDGs they have chosen.
He said areas such as education and climate change were broad so there was a need for participants to move closer to specific areas of focus, adding that “we are also taking them through research and analysis that will help them explore the areas a lot more”.
Dr Adomdza, who is the facilitator of the event said, he was hopeful that participants would not only present interesting ideas but validated ones.
Mr Christian Bagoya, a participant said, he chose SDG 4, because he believed education was the basic for a society to develop, however, the education Africa needed had to go with the pace at which technology was affecting the masses.
He underscored the need to have a system of education that would inform people to think critically, particularly in the area of job creation.
The African Youth SDGs Summit is the largest gathering platform for youth from across the African continent and beyond to discuss and assess the status of implementation of continental commitments to the Global Goals but also sharing ideas, critiques, results and challenge national governments to deliver on their promise.