When more than 60 students from different high schools in the country came together for the first time at the Samoa Accelerator Lab’s Hackathon in April, they did not realize that their ideas could power real-world innovations. One such innovation, which is still in concept development stage, is a solar desk to power touch screen desktop computers for all students.
The 2-day Hackathon was focused on taking the participants through a rapidly paced Accelerator Lab learning cycle of sense, explore, test and grow. In true youth fashion, the representation of the young people of Samoa at the Hackathon showcased why they are truly change agents, by sharing and informing UNDP, through its Accelerator Lab, of the challenges impacting their lives and the potential solutions UNDP should be mapping.
Other ideas the students came up with include an app called EazyA, with designs to perform well even with low bandwidth and to be made available in all the Pacific languages and dialects to host locally created educational content for young people to access and use. Then there’s the online school bag of basic necessities, such as menstrual pads and shared educational materials, that young people can access at the click of a mouse and expect that a school bag of what they ordered will be delivered to them within the day. There were also ideas about digitized textbooks to promote going paperless and to solve the issue of having no textbooks for all.
“The Hackathon inspired us to create and fully use our imaginations and showed us how to elevate our thinking. I’ve learnt a lot from this programme and I hope there will be another one because we need more of these types of events to happen if we need to continue to boost our minds and creativity levels. It’s also good to know that there are people out there who can help us and support our ideas,” said Qara Taavao, a Pesega High School student.
Melody Salesa of Robert Louis Stevenson School also shared the same sentiments: “I’m really grateful to have been part of this Hackathon. I’m so inspired and am now motivated to look at issues and concepts in a way that I’ve never thought of before. I hope UNDP continues to host sessions like this specifically for us the youth to be exposed to these kinds of high-level thinking and creativity.”
Choosing to focus on students for the Hackathon was a strategic move.
“This is in recognition of the power of young people to influence and lead solutions especially on the digital front. Youth innovation in the space of digital transformation is critical at this time, but they need to be mentored. The Hackathon provided the platform for this to happen, and it is our intention to continue such initiatives for our young people,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Jorn Sorensen.
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