Kenya: Education stakeholders pledge to teach coding in schools as building blocks for the economy

Nairobi — Education stakeholders have affirmed their commitment to the early introduction of the coding curriculum in schools to help learners acquire technical skills relevant for a digital economy.

Technology is rapidly changing the workforce landscape, with employers around the world increasingly looking for a digitally skilled workforce.

It is predicted that by 2030, 50-55% of all jobs in Kenya will require some level of digital skills, with demand driven primarily by businesses adopting digital technologies.

It is against this backdrop that the Kenya Association of International Schools (KAIS), in partnership with Education Technologies, Kodris Africa and the Kenya Commercial Bank, organized a Digital Skills Symposium on Thursday which brought together various stakeholders from the sectors education and ICT.

The event looked at the computer science and coding curriculum and the importance of integrating digital skills into primary and secondary schools. Also in attendance were tech giants Microsoft, Google Safaricom and Liquid Telcom, among others.

Over the past two decades, curriculum reforms have been driven by rapid technological and social change. However, while the importance of digital skills has been recognised, there has been less focus, particularly in emerging markets, on the scale of demand for these skills and the models that can be used to teach them.

Speaking at the event, Jane Mwangi, Head of Secretariat of KAIS, highlighted the need to train learners in digital skills from the basic level saying, “If you look at more developed countries like Singapore and Japan, they have taught coding to their learners from the kindergarten level, but as we have also done so as international schools, we are happy that public and private schools are finally catching up. ‘no choice but to make coding part of our way of life,’ she said.

Speaking at the event attended by nearly 100 international primary and secondary schools, Jack Ngare, who is also the head of Google Africa, said the only way for Kenya and Africa to stay equality with developed countries is to introduce coding at the elementary level. Educational level.

“Coding is one of the fundamentals of computing and empowering our employees to understand and create some of the technology products we consume is why we need to start teaching coding in this country from scratch. option. Rather than just being consumers of technology, we also build it. We have been overtaken by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd industrial revolutions, will we also be left behind by the 4th industrial revolution?

Catherine Muraga, Managing Director of the Microsoft Development Center for Africa, said coding has become so central to all career paths, adding that “the need to teach learners how to solve problems through coding is become much more important that we need to pay attention to it. It is as important as English or French in communication. We need to ensure that our children are well equipped for efficiency and productivity.

In Kenya, the demand for digital skills training is expected to increase as we approach the next decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the speed of this change. 70% of demand is expected to be for basic skills, followed by 23% for intermediate non-ICT skills.

Kodris Africa is the only organization offering a curriculum endorsed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). Speaking at the event, Kodris Africa CEO Mugumo Munene emphasized the importance of teaching learners more than just using computer applications.

“If you talk to experts, they will tell you that the earlier you start learning to code, the better. In such a connected world, children need to learn digital skills such as coding from an early age. program that we have developed is not necessarily for a segment of schools, it is transversal and can be deployed by public schools, private schools and international schools.”

Coding is the translation of instructions for a computer from a human language to a language that a machine/computer can understand. The technologies we rely on, such as smartphones, ATM cards, mobile money, internet banking, e-learning and telemedicine, all run on codes.

Speaking on behalf of KICD, which is the agency mandated to deliver the programs and program support materials, Deputy Director of e-Learning, Charles Munene, said: “Over the past two decades , curriculum reforms have been driven by rapid technological and social change. Coding is becoming the most in-demand job skill of the future, so we need to align our curriculum with this growing demand in the job market.”

Countries like the United States, China, England, Germany, and France, among many others in the developed world, have already made coding mandatory for first-grade learners.

Globally, employment in IT and computing occupations is projected to grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for IT occupations was $91,250 in May 2020, which was higher than the median annual salary for all occupations of $41,950. The demand for IT skills is expected to be driven by cloud computing, big data collection and storage, and information security.

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