More about our writer: Thuli Sibeko is the founder of Girls Invent Tomorrow.
Girls Invent Tomorrow is an initiative dedicated to initiating programs designed to empower, educate and mentor girls about the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector.
Follow them on twitter: @GirlsInvent
We are more than half-way through the year of Code. The world around us is talking ever so much more about teaching the youth how to read and write in the language of the machine.
Many organizations across the world have joined the banter of the wires to educate us about the importance of being able to write code. Local organizations such as Mlab, RLabs, ThoughtWorks and Girls Invent Tomorrow are hosting coding workshops with the youth to bring this skill one step closer to realization.
The question we have to ask is: Are we as non-profit organizations successfully able to reach the masses, alone? Should school curriculums not be changed to include coding development amongst youth? Boys and girls alike should be taught these skills from a young age. The ability to code is the ability to read and write a machine language as well as to think computationally. Learning to code can lead to outputs valuable in and of themselves, but the process of learning to code also develops problem-solving skills, (digital) confidence, and helps young people understand the world around them. In many respects, we should encourage kids to code for similar reasons to those we give for encouraging them to play sports and learn an instrument: it’s good for their development.
For this reason alone, should government and educators not consider the inclusion of these skill-sets into schools? We live in an era where being digital is second nature, yet we are not equipping the youth with the skills to properly succeed in an ever changing global working environment.
We are seeing the shift globally, I recall a recent article posted on PC Pro, where it was stated that British students are already set to learn how to code from next school year (starting September 2014). The aim of having this inclusion brought into the curriculum is to get more students trying their hand at programming, and to convince non-coders that it isn’t as difficult as it may first look.
Local non-profits, such as ours, should be empowered by local government to bring coding workshops to the masses, while educational institutions embark on the same within their confines.
Coding might seem trivial to some, but the basic principles which go hand in hand with this skill empowers minds and allows for innovative thinking. Is this not the type of future leaders we want in the country? Do we not aim to have the next Mark Zuckerburg or Bill Gates born from the loins of Africa?