Abu Dhabi opens coding school without teachers or classrooms

Peer-to-peer learning is encouraged at 42 Abu Dhabi, which promotes a project-based approach

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An innovative coding school without teachers or classrooms has opened in the capital with 225 pupils, 40 per cent of them women.

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, a member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, inaugurated 42 Abu Dhabi’s purpose-built campus in Mina Zayed on Sunday.

Sheikh Khaled said 42 Abu Dhabi represented a new milestone in the UAE leadership’s strategy to nurture tomorrow’s leaders today.

Coding is no longer reserved for ICT specialists. It is a universal language we must all speak
Sara Musallam, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge

“This pioneering new school will provide an additional educational platform to build digital skills and a home-grown, future-ready workforce equipped to lead the technology-driven economy of the 21st century,” Sheikh Khaled said.

The coding school is part of the world-renowned 42 Network and is the first of its branches to open in the Arabian Gulf.

Its tuition-free model is rooted in peer-to-peer learning, which means it has no teachers or classrooms. Instead, participants study independently and work on projects.

Open 24 hours a day, and offering its programmes free of charge, the college aims to cultivate creativity, collaboration and self-discipline.

The company opened its first campus in Paris in 2013, and to date, has equipped more than 12,000 pupils around the world with digital and business skills. It has been endorsed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel.

A new generation of coders

More than 400 candidates applied to be part of 42 Abu Dhabi’s inaugural cohort.

The initial selection process took place from May to August, when three groups of candidates underwent 26-day tests of motivation, endurance and commitment.

In total, 225 candidates were successful and joined the coding school on September 26.

Forty per cent are women, more than four fifths are aged between 18 and 30, and almost all live in the UAE.

UAE citizens comprise 43 per cent of the first group of pupils, and of this cohort, almost 70 per cent are women.

Minister of Education Hussain Al Hammadi said the coding school would help the country meet the growing requirements of the digital domain.

“42 Abu Dhabi reflects Abu Dhabi government’s commitment to developing a digitally aware and technology-driven generation of young professionals who are not only technically skilled, but are also pushing the boundaries of digital innovation,” Mr Al Hammadi said.

The schoool has been established in partnership with Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge under Ghadan 21, the emirate’s Dh50 billion, three-year stimulus and reform package.

Sara Musallam, chairwoman of Adek, said 42 Abu Dhabi was critical to the strategic development of the region’s tech talent and to Abu Dhabi’s “mission to build a future-ready human capital pipeline that will contribute to our leadership’s vision of a secure and confident society that is competitive, sustainable and open”.

“Coding is no longer reserved for ICT specialists. It is a universal language we must all speak to navigate the convergence of technology across industries operating in the global digital economy,” Ms Musallam said.

Candidates interested in applying to 42 Abu Dhabi require no previous coding experience, but must be aged at least 18. Enrolment requires registration and the initial selection is made through an online assessment that evaluates cognitive capacity through logic and memory tests.

Updated: October 11, 2021, 8:44 AM