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Friday 18 January 2019
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Computer Science as a compulsory subject in Namibian schools

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-11-57-24-amThe world is changing rapidly, and at the forefront of this change is technology. Technology has become an important aspect in the lives of many.
 
Nevertheless, in order for citizens to participate and become relevant in this digital age, an understanding of what Computer Science is all about becomes necessary. Despite the importance of Computer Science, only a handful of Namibian schools both public and private teach Computer Science as a subject. This article highlights the importance of Computer Science and coding.
 
Furthermore, we describe the benefits Namibia will reap should it introduce Computer Science as a compulsory subject in all Namibian schools. It’s believed that by 2020 majority of young people and adults would have been raised in the digital era, where computers, smart phones and wearable technology has been the norm.
 
Some of these people have never even bought a newspaper to read what is happening around them or in the world but they are aware and up to date with news through online newspapers, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter. There is no doubt that rapid technological advancement is changing how we think, live and communicate. From the amazing Pokemon Go to virtual reality applications that immerse the user into an imaginary environment, technology has become an important aspect in our lives, improving quality of life for many. But, behind all these technologies and applications is coding, a process designing and writing a set of instructions that inform the computer what it should do.
 
Coding is rare skill but one that is very important to have today and will continue to be in great demand in the future. Computer Science doesn’t only equip people with the ability to code but also opportunities to learn about computers in general, computational systems and cyber security. It is my conviction that Computer Science should become a compulsory subject in all schools in Namibia from primary school to tertiary level.
 
Thus provide an endless world of opportunities for both our pupils and country. Here are the reasons why we need Computer Science education in schools: • As a problem solving oriented science, Computer Science fosters logical and design thinking skills. Moreover, people who learn to code at an early age are often better in terms of critical thinking compared to those who don’t know how to code or started coding later in their lives.
At the centre of Computer Science is problem solving, coming up with solutions to solve challenges facing communities. The ability to come up with solutions to problems is important in any career or industry. The ability of technology to transform just any industry has made Computer Science a necessity across many sectors. Furthermore, the trend today is clear the digital society is here to stay, the need and demand for more Computer Scientists will grow in the coming years. We are seeing an interesting trend, young people creating tech start-up companies after graduation and developing immersive applications that are redefining so many things.
 
Computer Science has been predominantly a male arena, introducing Computer Science as a compulsory subject in schools can be a very good way to increase the number of women and girls in Computer Science. As a creative process critical in designing life changing technologies, there’s a need for greater diversity in Computer Science. It’s not only wise to study Computer Science because of its practicality or because it is fashionable to do so. Computer Science is an amazing field of study as it teaches and create a culture of solving problems. Problem solving is a challenge facing many African countries, Namibia included, therefore introducing Computer Science in schools will help find local solutions to local problems.
 
We are not advocating for the introduction of Computer Science that focus purely on computer literacy, teaching learners how to use Microsoft word, spreadsheet, excel and alike. But one which teaches children computer science, information technology and digital literacy, equipping the technical skills on how to code, and how to create their own applications; not just how to work with a computer, but how a computer works and how to make it work for us in the Namibian context. We are deeply passionate about empowering the Namibian youth with this rare skill, and we have tried to empower as many Namibian youth as we can, especially women.
 
This year alone through the two free Android trainings we hosted this year together with the Namibia women in computing (NWIC), Google developers group (GDG) Windhoek sponsored by Google and National Youth Council (NYC) we have trained 200 young Namibians how to code, of which 180 were women. Our vision is to train about 10 000 by 2025 and encourage more youth to learn how to code. It’s my dream to see a Namibian house that develop all software and applications it uses for both enterprise and personal use. This is only possible if we are to introduce our children to Computer Science education at an early age.
 
In order for citizens to fully and confidently participate in today’ digital society, there is a need to transform our education system so that it can be in sync with the digital transformation and relevant.
Introducing Computer Science as a compulsory subject in all schools should be part of this transformation. Just like we teach how electricity works and biology basics, we should also teach them how the internet works and how applications work and more importantly we should teach them how to make the applications. In conclusion, the language of technology is called coding. And without any doubt, we believe coding is a very important skill that is in great demand world over.
 
Learning how to code teaches you how to solve problems and co-create with others in creative ways. Additionally, knowing how to code enable you to build amazing applications that bring your ideas to life. I strongly believe that everyone should be provided with an opportunity to create something that can change the world.



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