Amidst the breathtaking Pamir mountains of Tajikistan and the diverse cultural fabric of the Kyrgyz Republic, students of Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) are using App Inventor to build apps for their local communities.
Launched in 2016, the MakeIt Computer Coding Club is one of the only programs in Central Asia that teaches mobile app development to school children. The club is currently offered at two AKES schools: one in Khorog, Tajikistan and the other in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Through a series of interactive coding puzzles, students in grades 6 - 8 learn the fundamentals of mobile app development while developing their problem-solving and creativity. Using App Inventor, students have the opportunity to create a portfolio of apps that they can transfer to their phones, each with increasingly powerful functionality. Students also participate in tailored, real-world case studies, in which they discuss technology solutions to local issues such as transportation, healthcare, and disaster relief. The program culminates with a capstone project, in which students each design and implement a mobile app to solve a problem in their community.
As part of the broader Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) - a network of development agencies, institutions, and programmes that work primarily in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa - AKES empowers students through world-class education to improve quality of life for themselves, their families, and their communities. Accordingly, from the outset, MakeIt was designed to challenge students - not just in the realm of coding, but also to contribute to their community. In leveraging programming to solve local problems, students begin to link their new skills in app development with the AKDN values of social impact and social responsibility.
This year marks the third year of the MakeIt Club. To date, dozens of students have embraced the mandate of using their skills to give back to their local communities. One student proposed an app to teach people about their hometown of Khorog, thereby promoting local history and culture. Another proposed an app to connect people struggling with diseases like cancer, thereby creating a community of support and common understanding.
We are incredibly excited about the momentum so far, and look forward to seeing the creative, impactful apps that our students bring to life through App Inventor!