Computer programming gaining popularity in Africa

Posted on October 21, 2015 08:07 am

Schools across the world are encouraging entrepreneurs and technology creators to support the introduction of computer-programming in primary schools.In Africa and in particular South Africa, education experts are arguing that it will provide opportunities for school students to learn computer-programming skills with the hope of attracting them to ICT-related subjects at university.In Kenya, those lobbying are drawing together the subjects of design and technologies, and digital technologies. It is written on the assumption that all students from Primary 1 to Primary 8 will study both subjects.For form 1 to 4, school authorities will decide whether students can choose to continue in one or both students and, or whether technologies specialisations not provided for in these subjects will be offered. If embraced successfully, it will equip Kenyan students with the skills they need; not just to become competent consumers of technology, but to design and create.Computer science skills and concepts will be introduced earlier in schools and every Kenyan student will learn to design and implement simple visual programs in Year Primary 1-4 , and learn a general purpose programming language in Primary 5-8.Boosting the number of computer science graduates is one of the top priorities of Kenyan government, which is working on a national campaign to accelerate the growth of tech start-ups.

In South Africa, a country currently experiencing students strikes across the country opposed to an increase in school fees, local graduates in computer science have shrunk significantly over the last three years and stakeholders have all agreed that it’s a national imperative to fix this. On a practical level, this means giving more high school students the opportunity to learn computer science at an earlier age and that teachers are supported. Similarly, a Cape Town based computer programmer whom I’ve worked with before, believes there needs to be a bigger emphasis on computer programming in school, particularly for female students. “When I was at school in Cape Town in 1980s Contador Harrison, all the smart kids studied French, German, History and Latin, so that’s what I took.“I would have loved to learn more about computers but I went to a boy’ school and it wasn’t really an option so I never thought about it as a career. I wish I could write code.”According to him, students in South Africa should learn to use and develop technology to solve real-world problems, and be encouraged to think entrepreneurially. The script is the same in other African countries initiating such plans with most of them strongly supporting student to be taught a general purpose programming language in elementary level(primary education) and also strongly supporting every student to be taught a programming language in high school including visual programming languages like Scratch as well as supporting the teaching of algorithmic and computational thinking in early primary years.In South Africa, there has been recommendations to remove project management from the syllabus completely, and instead including syllabus points on entrepreneurial thinking.

Contador Harrison