Code Avengers is on a mission to ensure that every student, regardless of background, can excel in the digital world. The Waikato-based company is making waves across New Zealand and the Pacific by helping to address the tech skills gap shortage and underrepresentation of indigenous communities in tech.
Born from a 4 year PHD study, the Māori owned company is the commercial realisation from research that resulted in the identification of key elements required to successfully teach and learn computer languages. . Their powerful e-learning platform, content and resources empower digital technologies classes. Their goal: “to make the development of digital skills accessible and engaging for all” has already seen success with coding camps across New Zealand and the Pacific.
Code Avengers, a fitting name for a company focussed on empowerment and innovation, has developed the digital education initiative “Indigitech” for years 7 and 8 (ages 11-13) with a particular focus on engaging Māori and Pasifika students. They have forged partnerships with Intel, Amazon Web Services and the kiwi edtech company Education Perfect: creating a collaborative force that will increase the representation of Maori and Pasifika in STEM careers through Indigitech.
Our Māori and Pasifika population in the Waikato is young and growing fast, and our local tech sector needs more young people entering the industry to fill talent shortages. However, rates of Māori and Pasifika students studying digital technology subjects at school remain low – in 2019 only 14% of Māori and 9% of Pasifika senior secondary students studied technology. Addressing this issue, Code Avengers is leading the way in building tech capability for career-changers, educators, and young people.
Anita Sima, Head of Professional Learning and Development, summarises the focus of Code Avengers: "Our mission is to empower students with the confidence that their talents, interests, and skills are worthy in the tech sector."
In 2023, the Waikato-based company aims to deliver through the Indigitech initiative to 10,000 students and is achieving significant progress with 5,700 students already enrolled and 278 teachers engaged in professional development programmes. The schools that participate come away from Indigitech with access to the Code Avengers and Education Perfect online education platforms. On the initiative, Senior Education Consultant Damon Khan said: “By engaging with students at an intermediate level, we’ll have more students selecting digital technologies at the secondary level. And that will hopefully flow on to see more Māori and Pasifika entering the tertiary level in either computer science or IT-related degrees.”
Code Avengers has had over 3 million students worldwide use its e-learning platform and has grown from day one in the Waikato. Originally from the Waikato, CEO Hamish Day cites the region’s relaxed lifestyle, low traffic levels, and strong talent pool as key reasons for establishing and remaining in the region. Hamish is also dedicated to supporting his local community, “we wanted to contribute to and strengthen the area for the next generation."
The path to progress is not without its challenges. One significant hurdle to delivering equitable digital education is funding the programmes in schools. While New Zealand schools are required to provide digital technologies education as part of the curriculum, many struggle to do so. Specialised teachers are scarce, resources like computers and iPads are expensive, and educators can often lack the training to deliver computer science education effectively.
Code Avengers addresses these challenges head-on. They offer professional development programmes for teachers, empowering teachers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to inspire young learners. Their learning programmes for students are designed to be taught by educators who learn alongside their students, ensuring a seamless and engaging learning experience. Additionally, in-person code camps invigorate and inspire students to learn about computer science, providing the momentum needed for long-term success.
Given the increasingly critical role that digital technologies play across all sectors, now and into the future, it is important that digital technologies education is delivered to a high standard in our schools. Government funding, although significant, does not extend to cover programmes like Indigitech in schools. To expand this important and impactful programme to more students, sponsorship and alternative funding solutions are required. While they've achieved remarkable results already, more work must be done.