A Durban-born IT entrepreneur’s efforts to improve South Africa’s computer science skills have received a shot in the arm with tech giant Google pledging its support for the cause.
Riaz Moola, 23, concerned about the quality of computer sciences in South Africa, decided to do something about it and in July 2012 founded Hyperion Development SA, an online course teaching programming to undergraduate students.
Hyperion, he says, is now “driven by university students acting as tutors, where people can take free courses in programming”.
More than 8 500 students from universities in southern Africa have signed up.
Moola did a three-month internship with Google in Switzerland last year.
“While I was at Google I started talking to the people involved with Google Africa, telling them what Hyperion was doing. “
He said Google later said it was interested in a partnership and would provide funding.
“We applied in November last year; we had to go through a whole round of interviews and checks,” he said.
Hyperion’s programme will now form part of Google’s international project of improving computer science and training. The British Computer Society is also lending a hand to the year-long partnership, which started in December last year. The project will also establish the Computer Science Association of South Africa.
“This partnership will give everyone interested in computer science in South Africa, or in the whole of Africa, an opportunity to pursue it.
“In 2013, we were asked by the Department of Education in KZN and the Western Cape to train their IT teachers in programming. We ran several workshops for them, funded by Oracle, and trained half of all the IT teachers in the country,” he said.
Hyperion secured funding from the Python Software Foundation in 2014 and was approached by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to train 80 of its staff in Python programming.
“We have close ties with the Google Africa team and are working to help Google run recruiting events in South Africa, and deliver their training through our online course platform,” he said.