Re:Coded Featured in Evening Standard

The Iraqi students being taught to code to 'allow them to take control of their futures'

An organisation in Iraq is working with young people to help "bring the country to a more digital economy"and give students the opportunity to "take control of their futures."

Re:Coded was founded in 2016 and holds courses for people wishing to learn more about coding

Zahra Shah, Program Manager at the organisation said: "We launched as a coding school to try and upscale youth here and bring them more towards a digital economy especially in Iraq where a lot of the jobs are provided by the government. 

"The economy is not doing great, a lot of the money that comes from oil and gas, they're not using it to rebuild the country and a lot of that is due to corruption unfortunately. But our solution is that there are so many youth here interested in technology

"So we started a school to cater to that need for youths to have access to that education. Even the students that learn computer science at university, they're not learning properly how to become computer programmers, it's very theoretical. We fill that gap by teaching android app development."

Students can take part in Re:Coded's five month boot camps or the tech entrepreneurship academy. It's come at a good time for the country, with the start up and tech industry growing. 

Ms Shah has seen the growth first hand having moved to Iraq last August. She said: "I've seen so much change already. There is a huge co-working space that opened in Baghdad four months ago in addition to our co-working space in Erbil. I feel that there's more NGOs as well getting with the programme when it comes to technology. 

"A lot of our graduates are being employed because they have the tech skills to leverage that and move their projects forward so I am definitely seeing a difference. People are starting to see the benefit of relying more on technology and doing stuff online, freelancing and entrepreneurship."

Iraq's tech scene is growing rapidly and Re:Coded is hoping to get as many women onto the scene as possible (REUTERS)

"Iraq is still behind the rest of the middle east in comparison to Dubai, but even just on a grass-roots level I feel it’s growing so quick and i’m really surprised to see how much it’s changed just from being here in a year so in another five years, I see it going a lot further."

A main focus by the organisation is the need to get women involved in coding. 

"We always aim for at least 40 percent women across our projects, in our boot camps, we have 40-50 percent, the same with everything we offer. A minimum of 40 percent is our goal," Ms Shah added. 

For those who graduate from the boot camp, the job prospects are huge. Some have found employment with some of the organisation's sponsors while others have decided to start their own startup. While others have chosen to teach coding themselves. 

"In our last boot camp, we had 35 students, of those students that were looking for full-time employment, around 90 percent of them have gone into employment especially in the local economy.

"They’re happy because they’re leveraging their coding skills and they say that re:coded has changed their life. We see the students go from month one to month five and their whole mindset changes on how they approach things and that's the core of what we do. It's not just about coding. It's about teaching them to take control of their futures."

Looking ahead to the future, Re:Coded has also trialled a remote web development boot camp in Yemen which it hopes to expand while there are also boot camps planned across Iraq and Turkey.