CodeJIKA wants 20% of schools to teach coding by 2020

CodeJIKA aims to have 20% of South African secondary schools teaching coding and computer science skills by 2020.

CodeJIKA.com wants one million young South Africans to try coding this week, as part of international Computer Science Education Week, taking place from 3 December to 9 December.

CodeJIKA is an initiative of non-profit organisation Code for Change. It believes that exposing the youth to coding and computer-based skills develops their computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies.

As part of its 'Hour of Code' campaign, the organisation is encouraging young people to try their hand at coding for one hour during the week.Learners can learn how tobuild their first Web site in just five minutes and learn the basics of HTML with an intro lesson.

"It's a phenomenal way to engage and just have fun with a new skill which is future-safe and exciting," says Sibusiso Khoza, provincial coding league manager at CodeJIKA.

Coding clubs

CodeJIKA establishes student-run coding clubs in secondary schools. These clubs compete for prizes and encourage other students to participate in software development and computer science.

The team employs a start-up mentality to the challenge and has, as a result, developed a mobile-friendly online learning tool, as well as an offline curriculum which can be used on any PC without requiring the installation of any software.

CodeJIKA aims to have at least 20% of South African secondary schools teaching coding and computer science skills by 2020.

The organisation works closely with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for the increased uptake of computer science in South African schools and to ensure that these skills are transferred into formal education policy or curriculum revision in the future.

The DBE has acknowledged that computer skills drive innovation in almost all industries and fields of study, stating recently that computing deals with information processes buried in the "deep structures" of many fields - for example, quantum waves in physics, DNA in biology, brain patterns in cognitive science, and information flows in economic systems.

Code for Change's big goals

Code for Change has some big goals for education in South Africa, including introducing a new computer science elective in secondary schools which covers entry-level course requirements for computer science university degrees; introducing mandatory ICT classes for all grade eight and nine learners; and encouraging mobile operators to offer free access to mobile-friendly educational resources, especially those that offer computer science themes.

Code for Change believes that as the workplace evolves, candidates with both entry-level coding skills and advanced computer science expertise are increasingly in demand.

"As Steve Jobs famously advocated, everyone should learn how to programme, 'because it teaches you how to think. This is due to the fact that coding problems are broken down into simple step-by-step commands, which is synonymous with how any complex problem is solved. This computational 'learning how to think' therefore drives innovation and problem-solving across many disciplines," the organisation says.

The CodeJIKA campaign has been adopted and supported by dozens of educational projects throughout the country and has seen a particularly enthusiastic uptake both online and offline in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It also enjoys support from local and international corporates such as Microsoft, Dell, Datatec, Tata Consultancy Services, PNet, IRESS and others.

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