It is never too early to expose or introduce young ones to computer technology. Even children who cannot yet read or spell can grasp the logic of coding, thanks to symbols. It is beneficial to their future success in school and in life.
In 2018, the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) initiated a coding program for children dubbed “Coding for Kids”. The main idea behind the concept was to introduce children to coding/programming at an early age. This is because research has shown that when children code early, they can build cognitive skills that enable them to become adept at creative, critical, and computational thinking. It also improves their problem-solving skills and builds their confidence in generating innovations. These skills enable them to seamlessly embrace science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which many of them find challenging.
In today’s world of technology, it is becoming very important to gain skills in coding. Much like learning a new language, it is best to start learning to code at a young age, to build a foundation. Even understanding the basics will create countless opportunities in the future and encourage creativity, increase problem-solving skills and improve communication. This, the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH), believes in the early start-introducing and exposing young ones to digital skills, to prepare the next generation for entrepreneurship, and new job requirements in today’s fast-moving technological world.
Thus, as part of its 10th-anniversary celebrations, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications decided to give back to society by reaching out to young ones in three selected regions, namely, Volta, Eastern, and Central, then impart technology skills through the Coding Caravan program of the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana. This is in line with its strategic partnership with the Institute to scale up its coding program nationwide and to ensure that many more children across the country, especially those in deprived and hard-to-reach communities, are introduced to coding. The three locations, namely Apam-Junction, Nsawam, and Tsiame, hosted the coding caravan team on the 14th, 20th, and 27th of July 2022, respectively.
The Coding Caravan
The Coding Caravan is a digital skills awareness program as part of the Coding Education for Ghana Initiative of IIPGH. Since 2018, the Institute has introduced coding to young ones starting from age 8, involving three different stakeholders in the industry, and ten (10) different centers/schools in 5 regions of Ghana. With a vision of taking the coding program beyond the national capital, IIPGH in August 2021 birthed a Coding Caravan initiative that toured the southern parts of the country with a mission to introduce coding to young people. The caravan kicked off in Accra and made stopovers in the Central, Western, Eastern, and Volta regions. About 1,200 young people were reached with basic coding tutorials.
There are many software programs built around teaching children about using technology, while also teaching key skills for schools, such as math and reading. In early childhood, young coders can compose a series of blocks with arrows to make an object move across a screen to a particular destination, considering arithmetic and creativity. This third caravan, just like the previous ones, offers a simple and motivating introduction to computer programming and other digital skills like 3D design and creative coding for children. It has been very exciting and eye-opening for many children who had never used a computer before nor seen 3D printers.
Tutors during the caravan usually take turns in separate sessions to teach participants practically and playfully to code. With assistants, teaching and learning are made easy as the assistants are seen going around to help students to follow the lead tutor in an instructional method. The Coding Caravan carries along on all roadshows over 150 (one hundred and fifty) laptops, well charged to stay up when faced with electricity challenges. The caravan also makes available its 3D printers to print and showcase 3D designs from creative coding.
Apam-Junction, Central Region
The first location selected was at Apam-Junction, Ankamu Al-Kasima Islamic Basic school, where 242 young ones with 5 teachers gathered from the host school and an adjoining school. In 2 batches, the students were introduced to coding. Many of these children had never touched nor used a laptop, however, expressed excitement and a willingness to learn. A few of them could answer questions brilliantly. Mrs. Phyllis Asante-Krobea, District Director of Education, Gomoa West, expressed joy for bringing such a very necessary and educative program to her district.
Nsawam, Eastern Region
The Coding Caravan made a second stop at the Nsawam Municipal Assembly Basic School, where the pupils and their teachers drawn from several Education Circuits in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality participated. The 210 enthusiastic students and over 75 teachers from the Municipality were present for an action-packed full-day coding and digital design workshop. All 75 teachers stayed through the program to participate and learn. There were two sessions, as usual. The first batch started from 10 am till noon, and the second from midday till 3 pm. The Municipal Education Director, Nsawam-Adoagyire Municipal District, Mr. Samuel Otopah Ntow, encouraged the students and teachers to embrace technology and improve their ICT skills.
Tsiame, Volta Region
Tsiame, the last location selected for this coding caravan, was on the 27th of July 2022, at the Tsiame MA Basic School where another set of 200 students in two separate batches took their turns to learn to code and explore what 3D design is about. The Keta Municipal Education Director, Mr. Gerhard Avudzivi, admonished the pupils to take advantage of this opportunity and learn new digital skills. He appealed to the Chamber and its partners to extend this practical skills development program to other schools within the Municipality.
During the event, the Chief Executive of Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Ing. Dr. Kenneth Ashigbey, participated and engaged the young ones, sharing experiences and offering doses of advice to the young ones. He presented gifts to outstanding students who answered questions correctly and contributed to the sessions.
Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications
The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications is an umbrella organization that looks out for the common interests of its members by seeking to impact policy, legislation, and regulation and promote the development of the telecommunications industry. It aims to be the platform that delivers and sustains productive relations between members and their stakeholders while maintaining fair and strong competition that yields world-class services.
IIPGH is convinced that by 2030 global technology deployments will be dominated by domains such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Software Engineering, Robotics, Application Development, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR). The Institute, therefore, views the coding program as a foundation for the future of the Ghanaian child. Hence, calling on all stakeholders to take an interest in collaborating to promote this important initiative across the country.
IIPGH And Ghana Chamber of Telecoms Nationwide Coding Education Partnership
Having completed the pilot phase of the coding caravan program, the team received several calls and requests for the program to be extended to other cities and towns across the country. The Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana (IIPGH), is therefore proposing a partnership with the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications to promote and sustain its coding program in all other regions in Ghana. This partnership, if supported by members of the Telecom Chamber, Government of Ghana agencies like the Ghana Investment for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), and other public and private organizations will ensure that many more children, across the country, especially those in deprived and hard-to-reach communities, are introduced to emerging digital skills like coding.
Author: Richard Kafui Amanfu – (Director of Operations, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)
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