In today’s technological world, one of the key skills which is in high demand across the globe is Computer programming or what is now being popularly called Coding. Since this is a specialized area; computer scientists, information technology experts and engineers from the institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) started an initiative in March 2018 to support students, graduates and other professionals to learn coding.
Coding is the skill that makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps and websites. For example, our operating system such as Microsoft windows, and applications such as word, excel, PowerPoint were all created through coding; Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, twitter and other social media platforms have all been developed through coding. IIPGH believes that in order to get students to develop interest in this area of digital skills, they would need support from professionals from industry to introduce them to this practical based learning method. In light of this, the Institute mobilized its members to start teaching young people coding from age 6years. This initiative dubbed “The Coding Project” has been embraced by students, parents, tutors, school authorities and other stakeholders. Through this initiative the Institute has trained over 500 students to develop games, websites and apps within its first year of the project at centers in Accra, Tarkwa and Takoradi.
This year during the long vacation (July-August) IIPGH opened 11 centers in Accra and a center in Takoradi in collaboration with its partners, and trained over 380 students. The Institute in partnership with Greater Heights School, Fijai in Takoradi trained 38 students to develop their own games, cartoons, animations and websites. The students between 7 – 15years of age demonstrated that if given the same opportunity they are capable of creating their own applications, games, online businesses just like children in other developed societies.
On Saturday 24th August after 3 weeks of intensive daily training at Greater Heights School Computer lab, students exhibited their innovative ideas, games, websites for online businesses in the presence of their parents, school management, tutors and IIPGH delegation. Certificate of participation was awarded to each participating student and they were encouraged to continue coding program after the holidays. The CEO of Greater Heights School Madam Edwina Prah reaffirmed the commitment of the school to continue the coding program when school reopens and she was optimistic that the school will become a coding center for tutors and students from other schools.
One of the pioneers of IIPGH Coding program Master Selase Kofi Gowu who started learning how to code from age 9 shared his coding experience with the students. He displayed some of the projects he has been working on and encouraged his peers to take up coding and develop their skills in new technologies like web development, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Robotics, etc.
The Executive Director of IIPGH Mr. David Gowu on his part reassured everyone present that the institute would continue to support the school by training both students and tutors until they are able to independently deliver the coding program. He mentioned that although the previous year students in Tarkwa were able to cope with the vigorous nature of the training, he was pleasantly surprised by the exhibition of critical thinking and problem-solving skills of the students of Greater Heights school.
Mr. Gowu advised parents to support their wards and buy them personal computers (laptops) so that they would be able to practice at home and explore new things. “Coding is the future and by 2030, most technology jobs would require graduates that can use the computer to solve problems especially issues that affect their communities” he added. The lead tutor for the vacation coding program Mr. Peter Ayittah in his final remarks mentioned that most students run away from coding in the university because they were not introduced to it while they were young. He added that, the hands on nature of coding makes it difficult to be understood if taught like any other subject.
The one-month intensive coding training was also organized in communities and schools in Accra between July – August 2019. Trained professionals from the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana introduced coding to the young people who were experiencing the hands on training for the first time. The coding lessons are intended to become an eye-opener that would introduce students to the world of emerging technologies. Apart from Greater Heights School (Takoradi), the remaining 11 centers in Accra are; Alpha Beta School (Dansoman), Jack & Jill School (Roman Ridge), Shield International School (Adenta), International Community School (East Legon), Oasis International School (GREDA Estate), West Hills School (New-Bortianor), Angels Specialist School (Tema Comm. 12). The remaining centers are; Educase Literacy Consult (East Legon), Manet Court Estate (Spintex Road), Redwood Universal Learning Center (Dzorwulu) and Kids Club House (Devtraco Tema Comm. 25). Some parents also opted for private tuition for their wards in their various homes.
The government of Ghana through the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, in a Daily Graphic online publication on 20th August 2019 announced that coding will be introduced in basic schools from the next academic year which starts in September 2019. The Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana welcomes this decision by the Ministry of Education to include coding in the academic curriculum and is available to support both government and private institutions. The institute with a track record of teaching coding is willing to support; train tutors and students in this new digital skills area by deploying its professionals from industry.