Steltix South Africa hosted a Hackathon in Cape Town on Saturday, 14 March 2020. Using Oracle JET technology to build web and mobile applications for a local school for children from underprivileged communities. Contribute in Belgium also participated in the event, which gave it an international flavour.

Christel House transforms the lives of impoverished children around the world—breaking the cycle of poverty and building self-sufficient, contributing members of society. Robust R–12 education and a strong character development program are complemented with regular health care, nutritious meals, guidance counseling, career planning, family assistance, and College & Careers support. Hackathon participants consisted of primary and high school scholars, alumni from the school, professional programmers (both local and international), college alumni and teachers. A product for the school developed by the school.

During the Hackathon the primary school pupils played with coding exercises writing their first lines of code, a group of professional coders from codeX helped adding functionality to the apps, partnering with Steltix employees who wrote code for the books library. The team from Belgium (Contribute) built a chat bot. The high school students helped with implementing a check-in for the facial recognition program that will help with the attendance app.

Francois Louw, Christel House Director for Fundraising & Marketing said: “What started as an initial discussion to build just one app many months ago culminated into a beautiful, focused event. Thank you to everyone (local and international) for making the event possible and for including our students from both Junior School and High School. A huge drive of Christel House’s work is to instil self-directed, ‘future proof’ skills within our students that will truly see them and their families etch out a better life for themselves in an ever-modernising South Africa. Saturday’s event has no doubt given our students a huge boost towards this ideal so we hope there will be many more collaborations to come. We can’t wait to unveil the new apps to the rest of the school, our students and all our supporters.”

Robotics teacher Ms Beverley Esterhuizen said: “The students were so excited that they couldn’t sleep the night before. Just having the kids involved in the coding process has peaked their interest so much. They are already asking when the next Hackathon will be taking place. They were so engaged with what they were doing, that they didn’t want to leave. The children were also given time to collaborate and exchange ideas with Christian about the chat bot. One of the Junior School students, particularly enjoyed the game Christian allowed them to play, using just the movement of his arms! It was amazing to be part of this experience and the children saw how people can connect with one another without having to be in the same country, but still be able to work on a common goal. Christian is extremely passionate about what he does and the students just loved his enthusiasm. There was a hype of activity in the room and it was fantastic! The Junior school is extremely grateful to have been asked to be part of the Hackathon. The students walked away from this experience realising just how easy coding can be, and how this could have a major impact on the environment and assist in making people’s lives easier.”

Christian McCabe – Steltix Senior Developer said: “The event was a major success in terms of inspiring the students from Christel House and Codex towards using technology and code to change the future. I learned more from the students today and how the approach solving problems. If you build software by yourself, alone, you build poor software, but when you build in a group of people with different point of views, you build great software.”

Managing Director of Steltix SA, Fritz Hölscher said: “We at Steltix are passionate about education and making a difference in our country, and we are so grateful for this experience and opportunity to work with these children. So great to see them smile and actually helping us build these applications for their school.”

“It was an amazing day and we learnt a lot of new things about how to improve the accuracy of facial recognition” – Gr12 Student, Storm Brophy

“It was interesting, as we found ways to integrate technology into our daily lives, in this case facial recognition. I also learnt some HTML coding, which was a bonus to the experience” – Gr 11 student, Noni Adams.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many events. We have big plans, not only hackathons but other possibilities to use technology to enhance the lives of learners and ultimately the country.

We are pledging for anyone who would like to get involved in future events to contact us. With your contribution we can be #STRONGERTOGETHER to make a difference in children’s lives and creating opportunities for the next generation of coders. #I’MPOSSIBLE #CODETHEFUTURE