On 31 July- 3 August 2017, UNESCO Beirut office in collaboration with Notre Dame University (NDU) organized a 4-day training on learning to build mobile applications for 23 young women and men aged 15 to 28 from the Chouf area.
This training was part of UNESCO’s YouthMobile initiative, which builds on the consideration that for millions of young people, the smartphone in their pocket is a very powerful and only computer they will have and use for nearly every aspect of their lives. With this new initiative, UNESCO and its partners strive to provide young people with the high-level skills and confidence to develop, promote, and sell locally relevant mobile apps that solve local issues of sustainable development and provide employment.
This initiative recognizes the significant potential smart mobile applications have to support the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ‐‐ especially since the next 1 billion new internet connections will be from mobile devices in the hands of young people in developing countries. The positive impact of connectivity on a country’s economy is well documented. Economics, local demand, and technology are coming together to help build better societies.
From its perspective, NDU promotes mobile app among youth and joined UNESCO to promote Free and Open Source Software and applications. Hence, the idea of having a youth mobile workshop complemented the work of both organizations. The workshop aimed to empower youth to develop and go as far as distribute and sell mobile apps for sustainable development. Twenty-three young applicants were selected based on their IT skills to learn how to build mobile applications and explore practical skills.
The UNESCO - NDU Youth Mobile workshop was a mixture of lectures and lab sessions. The language of teaching was mainly English with technical terms stated in both Arabic and English. The Android operating system was used for the training due to its popularity in the market and its use in a majority of mobile programming courses. In the Lab sessions, students were divided into groups of two or three members that were monitored throughout the sessions by the facilitator Dr. Joseph Merhej.
An Eight-week coaching period will follow the workshop to help selected groups retain and apply what they learned. The coaching activity will consist of providing resources that are easily accessed, answering questions, advising and tutoring.