Pupils on the path to creating their own apps

Sebanele Mdluli and Siphesihle Mdluli are fascinated by coding the puzzle.

The Hour of Code is an international project that started in the USA to help children develop programming skills and has reached over 140 million students worldwide.

Change the World Trust SA decided to help bridge the gap between youth with computer science skills and vacant jobs in the IT sector by bringing the programme to South Africa. Hazyview and the Good Work Foundation (GWF), just outside town, was their first stop, with three other provinces on their agenda over the following weeks.

Pupils from Zakheleni, Tfonlindhlahla, Mpunzana, Siyamukela, Majika, Ifalethu, Siyafundza and Ntshuzeko primary schools were all ears when David da Silva of Change the World Trust SA told them that he was going to teach them to communicate with computers.

They were introduced to binary code (the language of computer programming) through simple worksheets and then headed to one of the GWF’s classrooms to put their problem-solving skills to the test.

Lebogang Lubisi from Majika and Bonginkosi Mbuyane from Zakelani were some of the best puzzle solvers.

Lebogang Lubisi from Majika and Bonginkosi Mbuyane from Zakelani were some of the best puzzle solvers.

Da Silva explained that there were three modes of training: online, offline and unplugged (on paper). He had the children pair up and, despite being very unsure of how to work the mouse or how to solve the puzzles in front of them, they worked like experts by the end of their session. Teachers, who had accompanied the children to the event, were most impressed at how fast their pupils learnt and what they managed to accomplish in only one hour.

“South African children are very creative. If they get exposed to coding, I’m convinced they would be able to develop amazing new technology,” Da Silva said excitedly. He stated that programming helps people develop skills such as problem-solving, creativity, innovation and computational thinking and was therefor a great skill or hobby to have.

David Da Silva of Change the World SA explains what coding is.

David Da Silva of Change the World SA explains what coding is.

To implement the programme, Change the World Trust is partnering with organisations and schools across the country and will provide free training to facilitators and educators. They also offer support and mentoring throughout the year and will couple it with competitions and amazing prizes for top achievers nationwide. Anyone, regardless of which school or organisation they belong to, are encouraged to sign up for free programming courses on www.code.org.

Pat Ndlovu of Siyafundza Primary with pupils Frans Mdluli and Tsepo Nkosi.

Pat Ndlovu of Siyafundza Primary with pupils Frans Mdluli and Tsepo Nkosi.

Their aim is to train 25 000 youths in computer science across the country over the next year and are hoping to get community members involved.

Anyone interested in joining the programme or getting a school or organisation involved, can contact Change the World Trust on 011-455-2282 or 081-461-8419 or send an email to [email protected] or [email protected]

  AUTHOR
Retha Nel

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