Teaching Computer coding in schools is necessary to expose students to technology and reveal skills needed to develop computer applications. This will help reduce the number of foreign national Information Technology experts importation for implementation of IT solutions in Ghana and also create more jobs in the IT computer programming field.
Coding in addition to providing technical skills also provides abilities and skills such as critical thinking, persistency, problem-solving, mathematical inclination, processing skills, determination, creativity and innovation. These abilities when developed at an early stage in students in pre-tertiary levels will help develop students in a better way to be more productive in the workforce and in their future career. Introducing coding at an earlier stage of students’academic curriculum will help to demystify Information Technology as an intimidating area and an area for males only.
Currently, the brightest students in universities prefer to read Medicine, Law, Architecture, Pharmacy and Engineering, with very few enrolling into Computer Science and related courses. This trend can partly be attributed to the lack of exposure some parents, students and career counselors have to computers. Additionally, limited access to IT resources and trained personnel in pre-tertiary institutions has also played a major contributory role. Therefore, there is a serious need to foster computer literacy, in general, and computer coding, in particular, in our academic institutions, if Ghana is to compete with the rest of the world in the twenty-first century.
The expansion of the IT sector has been a critical factor in global economic and social growth. From financial markets to healthcare sector, the efficiency improvements catalyzed by developments in the IT sector has been critical. Hence, it is of no surprise that emerging economies such as China have invested immense amounts of capital in the development of IT infrastructure to compete with that of the developed world. Developing Countries, through the harnessing of IT-related skills, such as coding in schools, can leap frog into higher levels social and economic progression.
Though particular programming language coding that might be taught in schools will become obsolete when students enter the workforce, it must be noted, however, that this is always the norm. The computer technology environment is highly dynamic, hence, one must constantly keep abreast with developing trends in computer programming or coding. This ensures that one always possesses relevant coding skills sought after in the job market. Hence, academic institutions must strive to provide students with the requisite resources for studying new programming languages for coding in schools. This may include Government organizing specialized IT Technical Training for IT Teachers and ensuring that IT Teachers have very strong IT background before being employed.
Encouraging coding also offers an avenue for promoting gender equality and women empowerment. By targeting young girls in primary and secondary schools with the provision of computer programming studies, governments across the globe can work towards increasing female participation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field. This will have the cascading effect of leading to an increase in the number of female entrepreneurs and women-run businesses.
In emerging markets, this will also provide both new and established IT businesses with a diverse pool of technically proficient personnel to recruit from. The success chalked by organizations such as Rails Girls, Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and Google’s Made with Coding indicate the potential that can be harnessed. Hence, it is essential for schools, especially ones with low female participation in STEM subjects, to accommodate the introduction of such initiatives.
The coding for students initiative taken by the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) is a laudable idea to serve as a pilot test implementation of coding in schools in Ghana.
Creating a conducive environment in our schools for the study of coding should be pivotal for all interested stakeholders – parents, school officials and governments. Hence, efforts have to be made to facilitate higher levels of interest amongst students.
Author: Veronica Boateng – (CEO & Principal Consultant, Pinnacle Logic Technologies and Board Member: Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)
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