Nakimera, an 8th grader from Luweero, Uganda, excitedly points to the screen and exclaims, “The Java Script snippet I painstakingly typed into my HTML website works!”
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She is in one of the classes at Kasiiso Secondary School selected to participate in the coding pilot program offered by CodeJIKA to 50 secondary schools across the country.
Training university students to become “code coaches” has impacted tens of thousands of learners and hundreds of teachers in Uganda alone. The same scenario is playing out daily from Ghana to Kenya and down to CodeJIKA’s home country of South Africa as youth become irrevocably addicted to the power of code to create and create.
Tangible Africa’s mobile coding enjoyed a breakthrough year in South Africa, with large-scale teacher training in partnership with provincial teachers’ unions and civil society organisations. And what better way to celebrate these achievements than with an Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11.
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The premise of the week-long celebration, and the famous “Hour of Code” campaign that popularized it, is that “every student should have the opportunity to study computer science.”
How to take part in the computer science week
Whether you’re new to coding or interested in learning more about computer science, we encourage high school students and teachers to spend an hour coding by participating in any or all of the CSEdWeek activities.
• Beginners: First, try the 5-minute website on your phone at CodeJIKA.org
• Advanced: Try project 1-3
• Advanced: If you’re looking for a challenge, try Project 4, it creates an incredible Java Script game.
Certificates are automatically generated on the platform for those who complete the above activities.
HourofCode.com offers a fantastic selection of free online activities for classes and kids. To learn more about what’s happening in your area, go to https://codejika.org/csed-week/.
Coding trends in African schools
While Africa lagged many years behind, progress in 2022 shows huge appetites and faster than expected uptake. Many core secondary school curricula across the continent now include HTML as a prerequisite for learning functional programming languages such as Java Script or Python.
African-born coding solutions like CodeJIKA’s Offline Web Development for Teens and Tangible Africa’s free offline mobile game TANKS are gaining ground in South Africa and a dozen other African countries. Tangible Africa recently came second to the African Union, and CodeJIKA was a finalist for the ITTPSA’s Social Impact Award.
The reach of these free, mobile-friendly and offline solutions is growing exponentially as Africa Code Week, which began in 2015, continues to provide the publicity governments need to take action and accelerate the inclusion of these issues in school curricula.
“While policy and curriculum interventions have accelerated, implementation will be a marathon that will require attention from teachers’ organizations, education authorities and government budgets. What inspires me is the overwhelming support from the community and the learners’ urge to start clubs and continue their own coding journey even after the courses are over.
“2022 seems to be the African coding milestone.”
From now on, coding classes will be truly mainstream in 10% to 20% of schools across the continent. And it only gets bigger from there.
“We’ve definitely reached a tipping point in terms of public interest and government willingness to move this forward,” says Jonathan Novotny, longtime computer science education enthusiast and co-founder of the CodeJIKA initiative.
Only time will tell what the future holds, but perhaps the continent’s tech-savvy youth will change the game and create solutions to empower their communities. Live the Africa!