kood/Jõhvi Coding School, founded by Estonian unicorn builders, tech and startup community members in 2020, recently celebrated the opening of its new building in Jõhvi, Ida-Viru County, Estonia. The ceremony was a momentous occasion, bringing together various donors and supporters.
Teaching a new generation of IT specialists
“kood/Jõhvi’s founders perceived a problem and took the reins into their own hands to train a new generation of IT specialists. They saw the potential of Ida-Viru County and made the most of it. Now the most modern and future-oriented community in Estonia is converging in Jõhvi,” said the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, in her opening remarks.
kood/Jõhvi coding school was founded by a group of tech industry visionaries led by Marek Kiisa, who saw a need for high-quality tech education in the country. Initially supported by unicorn builders Martin Villig from Bolt and Taavet Hinrikus from Wise, the project gained momentum and raised €2.3 million from private and government funds.
The founders are dedicated to providing a practical and hands-on education that would give students the skills they needed to succeed in the competitive tech industry. “The first year of the school has shown that there is a lot of interest from both students and future employers, which is why we decided to accept 300 new students this year,” said Taavet Hinrikus, now chairman of the kood/Jõhvi council.
The school teaches coding and programming skills to students from all walks of life, and it does not charge its student for tuition. kood/Jõhvi is highly praised for its diverse student body, with 500 students from various backgrounds, from bakers to managers. As a miniature prototype of Estonian core values, the coding school supports lifelong self-realisation by providing a learning opportunity to future IT specialists like Kaspar Taimsoo, a four-time Olympian in rowing who enrolled in kood/Jõhvi earlier this year. kood/Jõhvi is strengthening the nation’s exceptional talent pool in IT as needed.
The average age of a student is 27, and the oldest student is 64. kood/Jõhvi also has students from 24 different nationalities, and a balanced gender ratio, with 30% of students being women.
Meeting the demand
The curriculum is organised around the 01 Edu educational system. It uses a project-based approach that allows students to learn by doing, gaining hands-on experience that they can apply in the real world. 01 Edu allows students to learn at their own pace and to choose their own projects and goals. It also enables a remote-first approach, which can be especially beneficial for students who have busy schedules or are working while studying.
The new campus will multiply the benefits. It also has a historical twist. Provided on a rent-free basis from an IT company Pilvio, it has been previously used as a phone network switch building. With support from more than dozens of partner companies, individual benefactors and the government, it now speeds up the region’s economic transformation. The full list of those who made the project possible is listed on the school’s website.
The economy of Ida-Viru County is largely based on industry, with a focus on mining and energy production. The county is home to Eesti Energia, a state-owned energy company, and Viru Keemia Grupp, a chemical company. Recently, Canadian Neo Performance Materials (NPM), the owner of Estonia-based rare earth metals maker Silmet, announced the construction of a €100M magnet factory and R&D centre in the region.
Now the region will bring even more talent to the Estonian innovation economy, as there’s a big demand. The tech industry generates nearly 7% of the country’s GDP, and startups employ over 10,000 workers. To stay, Estonia – the country ranking 1st in Europe in OECD’s international survey PISA – has yielded excellent results in resolving the shortage with the right educational policies in place. During the 2020/2021 school year, a total of 2,900 students enrolled in IT or computer science studies.
“We think that kood/Jõhvi is the best way to make IT education available to everyone. To this end, the school also co-operates with other similar programs and specialists in the field and increases the number of students every year”, Hinrikus notes.
If you are willing to help with the project, there’s a way to do so. kood/Jõhvi accept one-time donations to buy office chairs, and the supporters will have a plaque with their name or company’s logo and a short quote. Follow the link for more details.
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