Given the new reality ushered in by the Covid-19 pandemic, disruptive South African non-profit organisation (NPO) Code for Change has launched a bespoke, free-to-use coding and front-end web development training platform for South African high school learners.
Optimised for both desktop and mobile, the CodeJIKA programme teaches foundational coding, web development and computer science skills and can be accessed at no charge by both learners and teachers. Created primarily for under-resourced, offline, mobile-oriented schools and communities, the CodeJIKA programme aims to create a generation of African digital entrepreneurs.
Since CodeJIKA’s launch in 2017, the organisation has reached over 250 schools, 26 500 learners and 1 520 teachers through the establishment of coding clubs in schools. Fast forward to 2020 and the offering has evolved to an online platform allowing students to quickly and easily begin their coding education.
The CodeJIKA initiative is also dedicated to raising awareness around the need for computer science and coding to be formally adopted in schools across Southern Africa. 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.
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.
Why is coding important?
As the workplace and job requirements evolve, candidates highly skilled in computer science, programming and coding are increasingly in demand.
Young people are then also exposed to a possible career path they would not have previously considered – or even known about. Computer science skills also prepare the youth for the technological demands of the jobs of the future, regardless of field or occupation.
“Given the new reality of work ushered in by the global Covid-19 pandemic, it has never been more critical for South African youth to become skilled in a discipline that will become increasingly more important in the future of work,” says CodeJIKA co-founder Jonathan Novotny.
Dell Technologies South Africa – one of CodeJIKA’s flagship sponsors – believes that the provision of coding and CS training not only address a critical skills shortage in South Africa, particularly among black youth, but also provides this training to those who would not otherwise have access to it through more formal streams.
“Coding is no longer a luxury but a necessary skill for youth to have- it encourages innovation and is a skill that can be used across the technology spectrum. We believe that by introducing coding skills to kids from a young age, it enables them to start building critical skills, such as being able to problem solve, to persevere and to become solutions-minded.
“Coding not only builds technical skills but also life skills in general,” comments Natasha Reuben, Head of Transformation for Dell Technologies South Africa.
How to become involved
- If you are an educator, CodeJIKA will, at no charge, provide you with training that will allow you to teach critical coding and computer science skills to your learners;
- If you are a high school learner, CodeJIKA will give you access to a fun, free, online training programme that will teach you important coding and web development skills and support your future digital career;
- If you are a parent, CodeJIKA will empower you to support your children in their coding training;
- If you are a community organisation, school governing body, fellow education NPO or education department, CodeJIKA will partner with you to roll out the CodeJIKA programme across your school or community.
“Coding is the language of the future, and by teaching these skills to our youth now, they will gain valuable digital skills before entering the job market. South Africans can become creators, not just consumers of technology, and the youth are the ones who are going to make this happen,” Novotny says.