Coding is important for a whole range of future jobs

May 27, 2015

In simple definition, coder’s primary role is to write, test and maintain computer programmes to ensure that the computer application meets the needs of the users of the computer system.Therefore the current shortage of Computer programmers (IT) professionals to meet future needs of industry in East Africa means the region must start teaching students how to design and work with IT earlier.Students around Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been exploring the computer science that drives the apps, games and websites on their devices.In one case that am privy to, students from Kenya and Uganda took part in the Hour of Code last year, a global event involving millions of students in over 180 countries.Participants normally spend one hour working with computer code, experimenting with computer science or exploring the different ways computer technology impacts their lives.Contador Harrison believes that “coding” for young children is as essential as reading, maths and writing.Kids not only need to learn about how digital technology works and how to use it,but also how to create it by understanding the language of computers.With the increasingly digital world,learning about code means learning how technology works at a deeper level is crucial for East African region.

It’s essential for understanding how technology can be used to solve problems and to advance a society.Only by starting in the early years that East Africans can teach code as the essential literacy that it has become.A research conducted by an American research company, there is a huge shortage of IT professionals in the region with Uganda and Tanzania lagging behind their Kenyan counterparts.If the region is to meet future needs of industry,member countries must start teaching students how to design and work with IT earlier.There is a growing need for people to code devices, cars,fridges, robots and things that haven’t been invented yet.Am one of those who believe that East African Community need to introduce lessons in how to code so that the students become familiar with creating code at an early age,allowing them to progress towards further computer studies.Since the beginning of this year,Contador Harrison has been teaching his neighbors six year old kid coding and I started with ‘drag and drop’ block programming such as Blockly, Scratch and Tynker.The kid has been impressive in creating, solving programs and he’s been having fun while learning from the aging master from Wagga Wagga.The feedback from the children was positive.For me, its a good experience to see the puppyish gain more and more interest in coding.I really enjoy tutoring him about CSS and HTML.

Teaching East African kids coding is one of the best ways Contador Harrison can help prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.Demand from employers for graduates with computer science skills is at an unprecedented high but Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya has seen a stagnant growth in the number of IT graduates.I would always recommend Hour of Code which most of the time helps inspire kids to try coding and build skills for the digital age.People who learn computer science might find themselves working in medicine, helping to cure disease and drive breakthroughs in treatment.At the moment, technology is playing a central role in the modern classroom and we need to go beyond teaching kids how to use software and get them to learn about the nuts and bolts of computer programming itself.One thing is clear, if East African countries leave things up to the market or the initiative of individual players, nothing will change in terms of shortages of engineers. Through improvements to the education system and governments need to be smart and really exploit their own market power.Suggesting to bright young kids that they might want to become an engineer, every East African has a role to play in defending their future from a critical lack of engineers.

Contador Harrison