EC’s first Africa Code held in U’hage

2016-10-20 06:00

The first ever Africa Code Week in the Eastern Cape is taking place this week at the Uitenhage-based Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Science and Technology Centre.

Some 140 Grade 8-10 learners from 5 under-resourced schools from Uitenhage and Despatch were granted the opportunity to combine mathematics with a vibrant digital environment.

“We are excited to be the first host of Africa Code Week in the Eastern Cape,” said Chris McCartney, Head of Curriculum and Facilities at the science centre.

“Through this programme, not only will learners’ problem-solving and analytical reasoning be enhanced, but their interest to harness coding as a skill could shape their future professional development.”

Physical science teacher, Nelisa Mbebe, who accompanied her learners from Molly Blackburn High School said, “I am surprised at how quickly and effortlessly our learners are grasping the whole concept of code.

“Considering I first learnt to use a computer at 19, I can now see that tackling digital literacy from the early age of 12 gives a chance to children from our township schools to be part of the innovators of tomorrow.”

UDDI’s Chief Executive Officer Patricia Dlamini added, “It is through programmes like Africa Code Week that we advance our commitment towards meaningful access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and resources that promise to empower the youth in Nelson Mandela Bay.”

Learners from Molly Blackburn, Limekhaya, Marymount, V.M. Kwinana and Uitenhage High are being taught how to code via an application called Scratch.

Initiated last year by enterprise software company SAP, the Galway Education Centre and Cape Town Science Centre Africa Code Week aims to bridge the technological divide in underdeveloped African communities by driving digital literacy through the teaching of code.

Code, a set of instructions computer system require to function, is a feature in the development of applications and websites.

The NMB Science and Technology Centre is an initiative of the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI).

It offers learner and educator support programmes focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The facility boasts computer and science labs, and exhibitions in transport, energy, momentum, game zone, life sciences, construction, communication, light and optics.

Last year, Africa Code Week trained 89 000 learners across 17 African countries, and 150 000 youth across 30 African countries are targeted for 2016.

“We are assisting to achieve this goal by teaching learners how to write their first lines of code and encouraging them to get their peers to get involved.

“We also plan to facilitate more code-related training workshops particularly for educators in the metro,” ends McCartney.

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