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Microsoft collaborates with CodeJIKA to offer coding skills

Read time 3min 10sec
Coding clubs encourage students to participate in coding and compete for prizes.
Coding clubs encourage students to participate in coding and compete for prizes.

Microsoft has partnered with non-profit ICT skills development organisation, CodeJIKA, to establish coding clubs and teacher induction workshops in 60 schools across five provinces in SA.

CodeJIKA is an initiative of non-profit global organisation Code for Change, aimed at providing youth with coding and computer-based skills to develop their computational and critical thinking skills, while showing them how to create and use new technologies.

Microsoft says it has invested a significant amount of funding into the initiative, which is in line with its global commitment to computer science education.

Sixty schools in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and North West will be selected to participate in the initiative, which will upskill both learners and teachers in crucial digital skills.

"We believe the real value in learning computer science is not in the act of coding itself but in building students' ability to be creative, resilient and collaborative, these are skills they will need to succeed in the future," says Microsoft South Africa philanthropies lead, Charlene Verzmoter.

"Helping more students learn computer science is crucial to filling the jobs of tomorrow. According to our research, the fastest growing occupations, such as technology professionals and healthcare providers, will require a combination of digital and cognitive skills such as digital literacy, problem solving and critical thinking."

Through the partnership, Microsoft provides funding in cash grants and tech resources to Code4Change to enable the organisation to increase the number of young people with access to computer science education in and out of school.

"The criteria for selection is that the schools must have a fully functional computer lab, and a forward thinking attitude to learn about the latest tech advancements. Around 20% of schools which have computer labs don't utilise these labs to their full potential, so the initiative will empower schools to be able to drive their own workshops which will take place weekly," notes Verzmoter.

Code for Change says its primary focus is the establishment of student-run coding clubs in secondary schools. These clubs compete for prizes and encourage other students to participate in coding, programming and computer science.

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

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.

"We work with nonprofits, governments, educators and businesses to help organisations, school districts and educators to build their capacity to offer computer science and digital skills training in order to bring digital skills to every young person through policy, advocacy, and partnerships," according to CodeJIKA.

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.

"Coding is 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.com.

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