Google Africa Developer Scholarship program: 2020 recap

As another year closes for the Google Africa Developer Scholarship (GADS) program—a three-pronged partnership between Google, Pluralsight and Andela Learning community—it’s clear that 2020 was a year of change. And while COVID-19 may have changed the way many of the participants engaged in learning, it did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. 

Here’s a look at the ways Pluralsight learners in Africa reached their goals and improved their technology skills during an unprecedented year:

The Google Africa Developer Scholarship, by the numbers

The GADS program, which allows aspiring developers in Africa to skill up with Pluralsight Skills with the support of workshops and group activities from Andela, provided Pluralsight access to over 61,000 learners in 2020.

Participants received free access to handpicked Pluralsight Skills courses on the topics of Associate Android Developer, Google Cloud Engineering or Mobile Web Specialist, and learners that advanceed through their chosen track by meeting learning requirements and participating in Andela events and challenges had the opportunity to take an Associate Android Developer or Associate Cloud Engineer Google certification exam, with a voucher for the exam provided courtesy of Google. 

In total, 1,000 aspiring developers qualified to take a Google certification exam after completing all the learning phases and final portfolio projects. Here are some other highlights of the program:

  • 20% increase in the percentage of female participants from the previous program year
  • Portfolio projects for 2020 participants tackled problems in education, health, e-commerce, fintech and remote work
  • A total of 53 African countries were represented in the participant pool
  • Learners measured and benchmarked a total of 43, 698 skills with Pluralsight Skill IQ

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing physical Andela- and volunteer-organized meetups fully online, the program still saw high engagement. Andela was able to hold multiple online workshops for everyone across Africa with each session being viewed by approximately 3,000 learners, as well as supporting learners on Slack through peer groups and assigning them mentors who were readily available online.

The value of GADS to the learner

Curious just how important GADS is to the thousands of learners that have benefited from free skills access, community support and certification? We asked a few about their experience with the program:

1. Why did you choose to participate in the Google Africa Developer Scholarship?

“I wanted to dive deeper into Android programming, and it made me more confident of the skills I have and more willing to try out new things.” —Boutheina Bouchahda, Tunisia

“Technology and IT are fast growing in the world today, and its role in medicine cannot be overemphasized. I signed up for the program to gain some basic skills in coding to enable me take a step toward my goal of building an app alongside developers to make an advancement in stroke prevention.” —Dr. Boluwatito Balogun, Lagos, Nigeria

2. What barriers did you have to overcome to do well in the program?

“First was the issue of meeting new people, especially ones who were obviously more skilled than I was. Second was scheduling my time to ensure I took advantage of the learning paths on Pluralsight. I had friends who were part of the program so we got together to work on the projects, and that helped significantly.” —Sandrava Philips, Ondo, Nigeria

“The biggest barrier for me was managing my time, because I had my full-time job and another nanodegree to finish along with this scholarship...the Slack channels were especially helpful when I would get stuck at one of the projects, or to discover more techniques that Android professionals use in programming.” —Boutheina Bouchahda

“A huge barrier was balancing my school-work and the program and also being able to still maintain top grades while doing both. The project phase [of GADS] was also quite hard, but in a good way.” —David Nandwa, Nairobi, Kenya

3. How did GADS impact your life?

“Taking up a challenge that I had zero experience in, I gained self-development and awareness that I could do anything I set my mind to.” —Dr. Boluwatito Balogun

“It made me more confident of the skills I have and more willing to try out new things. I learned how to diversify my sources of learning, to trust my judgement more and to try out new solutions.” —Boutheina Bouchahda

4. What advice would you give future learners in the GADS program?

“Don’t be intimidated by the wealth of knowledge and skills that others possess. Instead, use that to fuel your drive to learn more...connect with people as much as you can. Even if you’re not much of a social person, make friends with someone who is so that you don’t miss out on important opportunities.” —Sandrava Philips

“It may look daunting and hard, but I cannot emphasise enough how much you can gain in 6-8 months if you really put your heart into it. And don’t be afraid to ask for your help down the road and network with people. Building connections with people in your field of interest is not just beneficial for your career goals but also for your health and wellbeing.” —David Nandwa

What's next

If you want to hear more about individual learners’ experience with the Google Africa Developer scholarship, check out our Tweet roundup of last year’s group of learners sharing their successes. And stay tuned with Pluralsight for more information about next year’s program later in 2021!