Coding is the buzz for whizkids

2016-12-15 06:01
  Esihle Yokwana helping out a younger learner.

Esihle Yokwana helping out a younger learner.

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Collaboration is the buzz word of the future and a recent partnership ensured that nearly 500 Cape Town learners got to write their first lines of computer code.

These learners had the opportunity to take their first steps in becoming digital creators and not just digital users.

The skill set required by our youth in the future is changing rapidly.

One of these ‘new’ skills is coding or programming computers to perform certain actions.

Empowering Africa’s youth with this skill is the motivation of Africa Code Week.

Coding is sometimes seen as ‘difficult’ and possibly only meant for the ‘brainy and privileged few’ or even ‘just for boys’.

Not so, Africa Code Week, for which the Cape Town Science Centre serves as the Global Coordinator, aims to dispel these myths and is intent on introducing as many young people as possible to at least write their first lines of code during this annual initiative.

Chevron, for the past two years has invested significantly in empowering 20 schools in STEM in the North Education District of Cape Town.

Combining the Chevron’s Schools Programme and SAP’s Africa Code Week with a big push from the Cape Town Science Centre, has made this ‘coding collaboration’ possible.

Schools may be closing for the holidays soon but for these learners, who have access to a computer, they will likely be honing their new-found skills.

The coding workshops use Scratch, a popular free programming language used worldwide and developed specifically to simplify the face of coding for young people.

One of the schools that participated in this collaboration was Bloubergrant High School, where 14-year old Esihle Yokwana, started her high school this year.

She says “Scratch has helped me to realise my capabilities, to tell my stories and be a part of the digital world.

My confidence has grown so much that I often host my friends for scratch sessions at my home and we have so much fun creating and experimenting with Scratch.”

In some of these collaboration schools like Silverleaf, most of the learners who participated in the workshop sessions had never been exposed to a computer before.

Okuhle Owethu Mtya, one of the Africa Code Week local trainers said: “I had the privilege of teaching these kids, not only on how to use a computer, but also to code using Scratch.

It is humbling for me to expose less privileged children like myself to a digital literacy I know will empower them and open their minds to aspire to achieve more than they have ever dreamed of.”

“To keep kids keen and engaged around the subjects of science and technology, you need to widen their horizons by exposing them to as many exciting and relevant opportunities as possible.

Through our Chevron Schools Programme, which target learners in the area surrounding our refinery, we are achieving this.

By collaborating with the Science Centre and their like-minded donors, we can offer them just that many more opportunities” says Jill Koopman, Policy, Government and Public Affairs Manager, Chevron South Africa.

The Cape Town Science Centre (CTSC) started their journey sixteen years ago in Canal Walk and now in the suburb of Observatory.

The CTSC is proud to work with both Chevron and SAP who have made this collaboration possible.

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