Leet Speak in Khouribga, The First Generation School for IT Training in Morocco

Leet Speak. 1337-Coding School, Morocco

With its rows of sleek computers and ultra-modern study methods, the Moroccan campus known as Leet Speak or 1337 is a dream come true for budding geeks, in a country where IT skills are in high demand.  The 42 Network’s school of computer science now has two locations in Morocco, the first of its kind in Africa.

About 1.5 hours away from Casablanca and 3 hours from Marrakech. Thirteen, Thirty-Seven, or Treize, Trente-sept the heart of Mail central is located in Khouribga. An ideal place to study, it is surrounded by parks along wth several cultural and sports infrastructures.

“I CODE, YOU CODE, WE CODE…” 1337 is the first to provide IT training in Morocco, free of charge, open and accessible for 24 hours to anyone between the ages of 18 and 30. No need for an IT degree, or an extensive IT training. The only admission requested is CREATIVITY.

Treize, Trente-Sept’s educational approach is based on peer-learning. A participatory operating style allows students to release their creativity through project-based learning.  “To train the future coders of tomorrow, we had to rethink learning. We had to make IT something fun, exciting and at odds with the restrictive vision that the general public may have about it.”

Treize, Trente-Sept is a forward-looking school. It offers full immersion in a universe where the future is already present where IT and the lines of code more than vague and off-putting concept. 1337 invested heavily in computer equipment. There are no traditional classrooms, with no less than 300 workstations covering two entire floors with staff available 24/7. All the computers are networked and benefit from the best bandwidth in the market.

Imagine a space where the sound of video games is mixed with the sound of guitar strings, a place where you can exchange ideas freely, play pool, board games, or have a discussion about a project or a startup. The playground area offers 8 meeting rooms to work in groups and share knowledge, hold club meetings, and a cafeteria that offers meals at no charge. It is a space designed to maximize exchange and relaxation alongside coding. Everything is in place to ensure the success of the students’ education.

Originating in the early 1980’s, Leet speak was first used by hackers as a way to prevent websites from being found by simple keyword searches. Leet Speak  became popular in online games such as Doom in the early 1990’s. Leet, or 1337, is a short form of “elite,” commonly used by video gamers to suggest that they are skilled.

In fact, 13 37 to be read fully detached comes from “LEET SPEAK”, the Leet speak is a special language that uses characters that are graphically adjacent to usual characters. Number “5” replaces the letter “S”, number “7” replaces the letter “T”, etc. Therefore 13 37… there is nothing simpler: L=1, E=3, T=7.

Morocco’s phosphate giant OCP decided to set up the 1337 campus, converting a disused factory in the central mining town of Khouribga in a bid to address the country’s severe need for tech expertise. This campus is the second school of computer science in Morocco under the “42 Network” for computer training, the first having been established in Khouribga in 2018 through an OCP Group initiative. Morocco hosts the only African campuses of the 42 Network.

In 2017, the 42 Network was ranked as the best computer science training program by the CodinGame computer programming platform. Using an innovative educational vision of peer-to-peer learning, the 42 Network strives to train professionals to help “answer the shortage of digital talents while addressing economic and technological mutation.” The institute works closely with 42, a French programming school created in 2013 by telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, highly regarded in the tech world.

The idea is to attract “the invisible youth, misunderstood geeks who don’t fit into the system and have developed rare skills on their own”, said director Larbi El Hilali. “It’s too beautiful to be true,” said Ismail El Mekhfi, who initially struggled to drag himself away from his screen to answer questions.

Fatima Zahra Karouach, one of the women who make up just 10 percent of the students, said the school was like “a big family.” “We have the same state of mind, the same lifestyle.” she said. At 1337, “the idea is to target the people with the greatest potential.” said a strategic adviser at OCP, who asked not to be named. “It’s easier to create new courses than to reform the entire higher education system.”

With no attendance fees, widespread accessibility, and top-ranked training, 1337 School in Khouribga and Ben Geurir aims to “offer a perspective of development and create tomorrow’s jobs for Moroccan and African youth.”