Decoding the Hype: Why Thousands Of People Applying To Abu Dhabi Tuition-Free Coding School


Over 10,500 applicants took part in a first online prescreening game at Abu Dhabi Tuition Free Coding School.
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Abu Dhabi: without teachers and without traditional classes, it presented a unique approach to learning; more than 10,500 candidates took part in a first online preselection game.

Today, 135 selected applicants have joined the first cohort of Abu Dhabi’s new tuition-free coding school, 42 Abu Dhabi, and are fully immersed in exploring a skill that has come to define the workforce. work of the future.

Shattering global stereotypes about coders, nearly half of this first cohort of students – 40% – are female. There is also a significant number of Emiratis, representing 42.5% of the students.

Lifelong learners

“Coding has become an essential skill to advance your career and will create the jobs of tomorrow. But 42 Abu Dhabi is also about developing local talent, because every time you try to get outside talent, some of the nuance is missing. [of the UAE]. Having software developed here means it’s much more likely to be relevant to the [country and the community]42-year-old CTO Marcos Muller-Habig told Gulf News.

“The learning methodology here also allows students to develop the spirit of lifelong learning, which means that they will always be relevant regardless of their future job,” he added. .

Gamified learning

Indeed, the learning method at school has been described as disruptive. Students, who must be at least 18 years old, learn at their own pace, carrying out projects that are reviewed by their peers. The approach has been likened to gamification, where students are “knocked out” if they don’t progress through projects. Indeed, all students selected for the program had to first take an online test, then take a Swimming Pool, a 26-day immersive test during the summer to prove their endurance and commitment.

Abu Dhabi Coding

Over 10,500 applicants took part in a first online screening game at the Abu Dhabi Free Coding School.
Image Credit:

The school – a joint initiative of Abu Dhabi’s education regulator, the Ministry of Education and Knowledge (Adek), and the emirate’s Ghadan 21 economic accelerator program – is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and students must respect their own schedules and discipline themselves to keep up. . A typical student takes three to five years to complete the program, which allows students to develop web and mobile applications and even take advantage of artificial intelligence tools. Those who are interested may even choose to continue with mastery levels beyond the 42 core curriculum.

Too good to be true

Gulf News visited the school, located in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed warehouse district, to hear from students who joined the inaugural group.

Azza Al Harasi

“When I heard about 42 Abu Dhabi, it was too good to be true. With a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, I was looking for a position when I came across the first call for applications. And so, even though computer games and mobile apps had been what I believed to be my only exposure to the world of coding, I was very interested in it, ”said Azza Al Harasi, a 26-year-old Emirati living in 42 cities across the country. ‘Abu Dhabi. first cohort.

Career change

If she completes the program and becomes an experienced coder, Al Harasi said she would be ready to take the career turn this could mean.

“Code is everywhere and I see myself building it for any future workplace I join. I really enjoyed the Pool, which forced us to manage our time and meet the submission deadlines, ”said Al Harasi.

In those first three weeks, Al Harasi learned that each individual creates their own coding style and is excited to develop their own.

A different way of thinking

For 24-year-old Allan Thekkepeedika, the 42-year-old program represented a chance to explore another of his intellectual interests. The economics graduate from India said he initially planned to major in law after a few years on hiatus.

Allan Thekkepeedika

“I had returned to Dubai, where my family lives, and then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. It got me thinking a lot about technology, and also how I had never really explored coding after my brief high school experience. It was a personal shock to me, especially since I felt I had the flexibility to do this when I was young. I was able to finish the pool and then I decided to do it at least for a year to see if the coding was right for me, ”said Thekkepeedika.

In three weeks, he has already completed his first project, which was to replicate the functions of the library. “Coding is a whole different way of thinking, so even if I find out that I’m not good at it or that I don’t like it too much, it’s [still a valuable experience],” he said.

NAT Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed inaugurates new coding school-1634534097617

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Board, inaugurated the innovative new coding school, 42 Abu Dhabi. During his visit, His Highness visited the specially constructed campus at Mina Zayed. WAM

Problem solving

Already well versed in web development, Ilia Mazourine, a 22 year old Dutch expat, found the 42 program a natural fit for him.

Ilia Mazourine

“I have never been interested in school, and only computer science has ever interested me, briefly, as a subject. So after I finished my studies I took a four month web development bootcamp and then started working in full-stack web development. I worked with an Italian IT and Marketing Specialist for 18 months to provide comprehensive web development services, which includes both websites and the logic behind them. When my brother, who lives in Dubai, told me about 42 years old, it seemed like a good opportunity to learn coding as well, ”he explained.

Completing his first project at 42, Mazourine said he had mixed feelings about it and wanted to do even better in the future.

“Information technology is now embedded in all industries, from public transport to medicine to mining, whether we are aware of it or not. So in my opinion, coding is for anyone who enjoys logical thinking and problem solving, ”he said.

The 42-year-old student from Abu Dhabi added that he sees himself opening an IT services company in the UAE in the future.

42 Abu Dhabi: what you need to know

Part of Network 42, which includes 35 coding schools around the world. The first of them was created in Paris in 2013.
First in the network to provide certification (from the UAE National Qualifications Center, which regulates professional standards at the federal level)
Follows an atypical peer-to-peer teaching methodology, so there are no teachers or classes. All learning is peer-to-peer, gamified and project-based.
Selected students pay no tuition fees. They must be at least 18 years old and must pass an online test which further qualifies them for a 26-day immersive assessment phase.
Students must complete projects at their own pace to progress through the levels.
On average, students take three to five years to complete the program.
42 graduates benefit from a 100% employment rate in France and the United States.
Located in the Mina Zayed warehouse district in Abu Dhabi.
The school is open 24/7, allowing students of all ages to adopt their own schedules.
Maximum capacity of 750 students at 42 Abu Dhabi, with 135 students in the inaugural cohort which started in September 2021.
Internationally, the 42 Network has trained more than 12,000 students and has developed more than 400 start-ups.


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