University students from Kenya and some parts of Africa can now apply to participate in season 4 of the Microsoft Africa Development Centre’s (ADC) Game of Learners (GOL) competition.
The GOL program gives African university students, aspirant software engineers, and solution builders the chance to hone their technical and coding skills while developing answers to the problems the continent and the rest of the globe are currently facing.
Participants in this year’s competition will be working to create potential technological solutions that can solve various health issues, such as how to enhance the delivery of healthcare services in their communities or other regions of the world.
Teams led by Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors create the concepts during a 5-week hackathon while receiving technical instruction from Microsoft experts.
Senior Program Manager at ADC and the founder of the Game of Learners Program, Ruth Ferland said, “Since we launched Game of Learners four years ago, we have seen incredible development in the learner’ skills through each season as they create incredibly clever solutions to some of Africa’s pressing problems using Microsoft technology.”
Ms Ferland added, “This year’s theme will allow the participants to plug into an area that has enormous potential to impact lives across the continent and indeed around the world.”
The instruction of 32 coaches and more than 20 advisors who will support the students as they learn new technologies and develop their solutions will be beneficial to them.
Volunteers from Microsoft and partners, including PSI and AMREF Health Africa for season 4, will serve as coaches, mentors, judges, lecturers, and trainers.
The winning team will be eligible for prizes at the end of the season, including working with GOL Season 4 partners to advance their solution and admission into the Microsoft Imagine Cup, where they will showcase their invention on a grand scale.
Population Services International’s (PSI) Global Director of Digital Health, Martin Dale said the partnership with Microsoft is part of a larger initiative to increase the talent pool of individuals working in Digital Health across Africa.
“There is so much talent graduating from our universities and Game of Learners is a great opportunity for students to dig in and create solutions that make health care more accessible to all.” Mr Dale said.
Speaking about the initiative, AMREF Health Africa Group ICT Director, Samuel Weru challenged students to apply for the program and be part of the drive towards creating home-grown solutions for Africa’s challenges.
“As a continent that has historically had serious healthcare challenges, we need the kind of ideas that can only come from the youth to revitalize healthcare service provision. There are myriad opportunities ranging from health informatics and telemedicine to big data analysis and system security for the learners to explore. We are eager to work with the teams to create solutions that have the potential to change Africa and the world.”
More than 20 advisors and 32 coaches will work with the students to help them master new technologies and develop their ideas, and this will be to their advantage.
Volunteers from Microsoft and its partners, which for season 4 will include PSI and AMREF Health Africa, will serve as coaches, mentors, judges, lecturers, and trainers.
Aside from working with GOL Season 4 partners to enhance their solution and entry into the Microsoft Imagine Cup, where they will showcase their innovation on a grand scale, the winning team will be eligible for prizes at the end of the season.
“The program is designed to provide a fun, hands-on learning experience while creating a virtual environment that transcends borders to allow young minds to collaborate and drive the advancement of Africa into a global innovation hub. Having gender-balanced teams further ties into our mission of promoting diversity and inclusion within the tech industry,” Ms Ferland noted.
Designed like a sports league, each 5-week season of Game of Learners is followed by a month-long season of GOL Clinic and GOL exhibitions to accord individuals seeking deeper hands-on technical experience and specialized training from Microsoft and GOL partners.