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Monday 22 April 2019
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Enticing the youth to code through music

Evidence suggests that music has a substantial impact on the development of young people. This is primarily due to the number of hours young people invest in listening to music. Moreover, in this digital age of smartphones, iPod and music players, music has become an important aspect in the lives of many young people; listening to music on the way to school, studying with music and dancing to music during parties. This article highlights the role music can play in persuading young people to learn how to code, thus open new opportunities for the youth. Music has long played a crucial role in the advancement of many societies, providing morale for freedom fighters and influencing societal change. In recent history, we have seen the influence pop, RnB and Hip hop music has on the youth, persuading many youngsters to look up on artists/musicians as role models. Though, there are divergent views among psychologists regarding the extent to which music can influence the nature of human beings especially the youth. It’s believed that Music can have three types of effects on individuals, Biological, Psychological and Social effects.
In terms of biological effects, results show that the processing of music is implanted with complex network of cortical and subcortical pathways. Moreover, Music also triggers neurotransmitters involved in pleasure, regulates stress hormones and enhances social cohesion. According to the Oxford dictionary, Music is defined as ‘That one of the fine arts which is concerned with the combination of sounds with a view to beauty of form and the expression of emotion’ (1989, p. 126). Thus, no doubt one of the psychological effect of music is emotions, Music help us better understand and discover emotions. Emotions can help us get the best out of ourselves. The last effect of music on individuals is the social effect, which is noticeable in most if not all aspects of life. Imagine being in a club or concert without music, will you have fun? Psychologists refer to music as the social lubricant, which stimulate and modulates interpersonal relations in social events and life in general.
No doubt, music has a huge influence on our lives and important to many. Hence, we need to leverage on the love of music to persuade individuals especially the youth to study computer science or basic programming. Music programming or coding is an art which one acquires over a period of time enabling them to create and develop high maintainable and available computer systems. However unlike music, programming is always perceived as a difficult art, reserved for intelligent individuals. Yes, perhaps this was correct in the early days of programming, but today programming has evolved and has become simpler enabling just anyone to learn how to code. As part of the 100-year celebration of Finland independence, Aalto university, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Finland) and African partners are running CodeBus Africa initiative, 100-day bus adventure aimed at empowering the youth with technological and coding skills. The CodeBus journey brought together African and Finnish tech innovators to organize creative coding workshops for young people in 10 African countries. CodeBus Africa strives to inspire African youth to discover and make use of technology in their lives, and empower especially girls to explore technological possibilities for the future.
The bus journey, which started in Accra Ghana, has been in Namibia as from 23 April 2017 and will be leaving for South Africa on the 6 May 2017. In Namibia, free one-day workshops were held in identified towns (Rundu, Mariental, Otjiwarongo and Walvis Bay, where participants can learn the basics of programming using Sonic Pi to create and code their own songs. They were able to programme an actual project, their own song together with their friends.  The workshops were open to young people from all spheres, including learners and students. They are all welcome to attend; we were expecting 240 participants altogether, 40 participants per workshop. From Rundu to Mariental the young boys and girls were excited and happy because of the rare opportunity they got.  Some of them got to use a computer for the first time, but after a few hours, they were busy coding their own songs. I have absolute faith that should we continue to skill these kids and equipping them with various coding and computer skills, they will eventually become app inventors and creators in the near future.
In Otjiwarongo, because of great enthusiasm from Otjozondjupa Region, an exception was made and an extra workshop was provided, which enabled an additional 40 young people to learn basic programming. The last CodeBus workshop will be held in Walvis Bay on Friday (today), the public is welcome to pop in and witness this amazing experience afforded to our children. In conclusion, using music as a tool to teach the youth basic programming proved to be an effective means to get young people interested in computer programming. Thus, it’s important that we do not stop here, private sector and government should come together and make sure we afford every child in Namibia with an opportunity to learn how to code.
No doubt, the future is technology driven and those who know how to code will have a competitive advantage over everyone.

*Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc. Computer Science




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