How Coding Clubs Are Creating A Generation Of Digital Entrepreneurs

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In a bid to prepare South Africa’s youth for the future, South Africa’s education department is in the final stages of its plan to introduce coding and robotics into schools. The appraisal and quality assurance process are ongoing for the proposed curriculum.

 


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Earlier this year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that its Coding and Robotics Curriculum for Grades R-3 and 7, and the CAPS for Occupational Subjects for Grades 8 and 9 have been submitted to the quality assurance body Umalusi for appraisal.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has provided training across the country to more than 10 000 teachers in preparation for the integration of the new coding and robotics curriculum. They also partnered with the University of South Africa (Unisa), to provide training on coding and robotics to 986 teachers, subject advisors and provincial coordinators.

It is believed that by offering subjects like coding and robotics in schools, South Africa’s youth will be better equipped for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). The technological developments in 4IR will change the landscape of several industries and will see the creation of many new opportunities for youth.

One non-profit organisation stationed in Johannesburg is working to ensure that young people around the country are ready to grasp these new opportunities. CodeForChange is building an ecosystem of coding skills in secondary schools around the country by training the next generation of “digital entrepreneurs".

Computer coding involves a person translating ideas, solutions and instructions into a language that a computer can understand and execute.  The organisation created a coding curriculum called CodeJika. Through the CodeJika curriculum, learners are introduced to basic web development with a focus on HTML, CSS, and are introduced to Javascript.

The CodeJika programme also benefits schools where coding clubs are located as they are working with learners before they choose their elective school subjects in Grade 10. The introduction of coding clubs could increase enrollments in subjects like Computers and Technology (CAT) and increase pass rates in the subjects. This also provides schools with the confidence to offer these subjects as electives.

Learners work through this curriculum together in after-school coding clubs using a free online platform which allows any school to participate at no extra cost. An offline curriculum is also available for schools that don't have internet access.

Through these coding clubs, they are trained to become junior front end web developers and are learning how to create basic websites and customise the look and feel of these websites. The projects they complete can also serve as a digital CV demonstrating their work to prospective employers.

Programmes manager at CodeJika, Rachel Pahwaringira explained that once learners complete the curriculum they are equipped with relevant skills to become digital entrepreneurs. This allows them to go into their communities and approach business without an online presence and pitch their website-building skills.

Pahwaringira says these skills open up many job opportunities as learners don't need a computer degree to work as a programmer or web developer. She adds that these learners could go on to create a programme or tool for the industry they want to work in because every industry needs coders.

Our goal is to Inspire African youth and give them the tools they need to help them create a better life for themselves and those around them - Rachel Pahwaringira

Pahwaringira explains that learners can create a basic website in five minutes, on their cell phones. Visit The CodeJika Website To Try The 5 Minute Website Challenge.

More than 18 000 users visit the CodeJoka website for 2022 so far demonstrating the hunger individuals have to attain these valuable skills. Many users also download the offline curriculum which allows them to share the resources with others.

CodeforChange’s long-term vision is for 30% of schools on the African continent to be using the CodeJika curriculum. The curriculum is already being used at schools in Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.

 

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