Only a few years ago, programming was a field typically reserved for adult males with ‘nerdy’ characteristics. It was taught in exclusive, expensive schools putting it out of reach of many.
However, the growth of the internet has shifted the landscape radically. Now programming has become more accessible for anyone with an interest in the field.
At Edustore Africa we strongly believe that children in Africa must learn to code and in this article, we will show you the benefits that accrue from that.
Programming lessons for children can help Africa produce great companies in the digital space
It’s no secret that Africa is lagging behind when it comes to creating new products and services in the digital/computer landscape. Some of the biggest companies in the world right now like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are all based in the first world.
The same is also true of such popular apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, Pinterest etc.
These companies and apps, which are based on information technology, have created enormous wealth for their owners. It took innovation from the owners that led to the birth and growth of these companies and apps.
It’s sad to note that Africa as a continent has not had a chance to benefit from the digital boom by producing similar apps and companies.
One way to start changing this narrative is to teach children programming from a young age. These children are bound to grow up with a different mindset that can lead to the growth of such life-changing apps/products/services.
Programming promotes innovativeness and enhances creativity
This is linked to the point above. Programming enhances creativity which a necessary component of innovation.
While learning programming children’s minds are opened in different kinds of ways. They are motivated and inspired to think out of the box through experimenting. For example, children can learn how to create their own inspiring software programmes on the internet.
Programming tactfully sends a message to children that they can create anything from nothing if they want to work on it. They can stretch what is possible.
As Bill Gates says, “Learning to write programs stretches your mind, helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domain”
This creativeness and innovativeness will be beneficial to children in all their aspects of life.
Isn’t this something we would want for our children in Africa?
Programming helps children to become problem solvers
Programming involves a lot of trial & error and debugging. Children who are taught programming will grow up with this critical skill.
By learning through trial and error, children will come to view ‘failure’ or challenges as a necessary component of success instead of being something to be avoided.
As we go through life we inevitably face challenges in any endeavor that we may undertake. Without the right view of challenges and failure, we can easily give up at the first site of challenges.
But with the right mindset, we can soldier on despite the challenges and ultimately attain success.
Programming is a great way to learn this since there are a lot of challenges that are inevitably encountered during development that are solved through computational thinking.
Computational thinking allows kids to take a complex problem, understand what the problem is and develop possible solutions in a way that a computer and the kid can understand. This type of process is like developing a step-by-step solution to the problem, or the rules to follow to solve the problem in a methodological way that could be replicated by a machine.
Software engineers, computer programmers, and logistics specialists use this method of thinking to solve problems.
So by teaching children programming from a young age, we will equip them with this essential life skill.
Children with programming skills can produce solutions for Africa by Africans
Africa has its own unique set of challenges that need homegrown solutions. It’s futile to expect the rest of the world to come and proffer solutions for us since they are divorced from the effects of these challenges.
Now imagine if we can have African children who are taught programming from a young age and they get to come up with solutions that can benefit them.
Without a doubt, Africa will fare better if her own children can use technology to solve her challenges. The best way to do this is to equip children with the necessary skills from a tender age.
Programming skills are in high demand the world over
The world has gone digital. Things like artificial intelligence, drones, algorithms are taking over. Their importance and use will only increase as the world gets more reliant on the internet.
Today, the fastest-growing careers are in the STEM industry which programming is a part of.
Already, some human jobs are being taken over by robots. For example, Amazon now uses bots in its warehouses and for delivery as explained in this article.
There are also a lot of jobs that are being taken over by AI. As this article shows, some of the jobs being taken over include truck driving, accounting, taxi drivers etc.
All this AI need to be programmed by someone so that they can be usable. Thus, teaching young children in Africa will equip them with skills that are in high demand.
This is a good initiative rather than teaching the kids jobs that are bound to be redundant due to technology. This will only add to the high unemployment rates already prevalent in Africa.
Rather than teaching our kids to be accountants, we should teach them how they can program a system that can perform the accounting duties.
An example of this in action is how this 14-year old programmer has caught the attention of the world including companies like Google and IBM.
As he says, he started learning how to code at age 5.
This is what we envision at Edustore Africa.
We believe children who are taught programming at a young age can produce incredible results for Africa.
If students spend more time learning to programme in the classroom, they have the opportunity to stumble across something new, usable, creative and disruptive. They can not only change their own thinking but also build something that could change the world as we know it.
What are your thoughts on teaching children programming in Africa? Do you think it can benefit them in any way? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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