Coding comes to African classrooms

Coding

Coding is much more than just learning how to write computer programs.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Trends show software programming is becoming an essential ingredient in African education, as the continent leapfrogs into the digital economy.

Education stakeholders are promoting coding in schools to expose young learners to technology and create a path to a new world of innovation and creativity. 
 
In April, Kenya introduced coding into its national curriculum, setting the pace for a new ICT agenda in African policy-making that could boost computer programming across the continent.

The East African state launched the coding curriculum in primary and secondary schools, becoming the first state on the continent to make it an official syllabus. 
 
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development approved coding as a critical skill within the new Competency Based Curriculum.

In South Africa, coding "boot camps" are springing up to satisfy the growing demand for digital skills in that economy. 
 
CodeSpace, CodeX, iXperience, School of IT, Umuzi, HyperionDev and WeThinkCode are some of the boot camps driving digital skills in the Rainbow Nation.

In its 2022/23 annual performance plan published in May, South Africa's Department of Basic Education (DBE) promised full implementation of coding and robotics for Grade R-3 and 7 from the next financial year.

DBE plans full-scale implementation for Grades 4-6 and Grade 8 for 2024, followed by Grade 9 in 2025

The expected implementation of the coding curriculum follows a successful pilot in 2021.

Recently, tech experts urged policymakers in Nigeria to incorporate code learning in the school curriculum at both primary and secondary levels, the Nigerian Tribune reported.

Ed-tech experts hope a "digitally conscious" syllabus will help improve technological advancement and innovations in the populous state.

In 2019, the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) of Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) launched ‘Next Coders’ programme

TIEC was designed to offer secondary-school first-year students the training course gratis with a nanodegree certificate on ‘Learn to Code’ presented by Udacity. 
 
In 2020, Morocco launched its first school for "tech geeks", while Madagascar has been giving free, volunteer-led, community-based computer programming initiation to kids ages seven to 17 since 2014.

Google's Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021 shows a growing demand for African coders.

"More African developers are getting full-time jobs due to both the rise in demand from local startups and the global demand for remote technical talent," the report reads in part.

"Nigeria’s professional developer population had the largest magnitude growth of any African country during this time, with an estimated 5,000 new professional software developers in 2021."

It further indicates that with 22 per cent of Africa's Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) starting or increasing their internet use, the need for web development services has increased. 
 
Higher demand for remote developer work also led to increased opportunities, with 38 per cent of African developers working for at least one company based outside of the continent.

Figures from e-Conomy Africa 2020 report by Google and IFC show Africa currently has nearly 700,000 professional developers.

At the tertiary level, Nigeria's AltSchool, which launched in April, had received more than 8,000 applications from 19 countries for its software engineering program by February. 
 
The AltSchool Africa program employs a blended learning approach consisting of virtual instructor-led sessions as well as self-paced learning modules.

Learners can get attain a certificate or diploma, the latter running for one year. 
 
“There will be classes for the first nine months and you will be placed in a company for the last three months (internship) to gain experience,” the website explains.

Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Botswana top the list of applicants seeking knowledge in computer programming.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Africa’s Internet economy is tipped to reach 180 billion US dollars by 2025, accounting for 5.2 per cent of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 2050, the projected potential contribution could reach 712 billion US dollars, 8.5 per cent of the continent’s GDP.

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