By Sam Ancer
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the Kenyan Education Curriculum will be adding coding as a subject for primary and high school students earlier this month.
This historic announcement marks the first official coding curriculum in an African country.
The program will form part of the The Kenya National Digital Master Plan which will run for the next ten years.
The goal for the Kenyan government is to build its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) abilities in order to push its economic development.
The country will face many challenges in adopting this strategy, about half of the country does not access the internet according to research performed by DataReportal.
But these problems are being rapidly addressed. In the same report, DataReportal found that over a million Kenyans gained access to the internet between 2021 and 2022.
Coding in schools is fantastic if you’re wanting to develop your ICT industry for a global stage, but there are a lot of other benefits to using coding in education.
Coding Teaches Problem Solving Skills
It’s no big secret that coding needs a lot of logic and problem solving skills. In order to code you need to break things down into more digestible pieces of information.
Studies performed on 5 and 6-year-olds found that children that were exposed to learning coding programs performed better at problem solving challenges.
A later study suggests that children can also develop non-verbal cognitive skills. Basically their ability to think and interpret information increases because they are learning to code.
Coding Teaches Communication
Stereotypes aside, coding is a skill that needs a lot of communication. In solving technical computer problems, a lot of input is needed from various people.
This is why coding in an educational setting can help boost communication skills. Information and Software found that the performance of developers was tied to how well their team collaborated and communicated.
Providing children with opportunities to code in groups and to work on problems together will help them develop their communication skills, a crucial ability for any person regardless of their role.
Coding Teaches Structured Thinking
Structured thinking is the ability to create a structured foundation to solve a problem that is unstructured. This usually involves spotting patterns in larger objects based on their individual parts.
Because coding is such a fundamentally step-by-step process and needs a lot of problem solving skills to truly master, by exposing children to these problems early on, they are able to adapt and learn skills to understand and resolve problems on a piece by piece basis.
Structured thinking is not only advantageous in computer science but also business, mathematics and any field that needs you to break down and understand complex information.
Coding Boosts Chances of Further Education
A four-year study by West Coast Analytics found that students who took AP Computer Science Principles in high school were 12 percent more likely to be accepted into college than their counterparts.
This goes to show that coding and computer science skills can translate into better results in other fields as they learn a variety of skills that can be used in other areas.
Higher education is vital in Africa where skills are in short supply. These benefits can also be used in hard skills courses like plumbing and electrical contractorship, which Africa is in dire need of.
Coding Maintains Creativity
In order to code you need to be creative. In order to come up with solutions to unique problems programmers and coders need to be able to think creatively.
As we age we tend to lose our creative abilities. Like any skill though, the more we practice our creativity, the better we are at staying creative.
Coding is unique in that it is always appropriate to use no matter what stage of development a child is in. So while talking to an imaginary friend has the danger of social ostracisation, a lifetime of coding will allow a child to keep their creative skills into adulthood.
Kenya Coding Curriculum
Kenya introducing a coding curriculum into its school system has a lot of potential to uplift many lives across the country.
Not only will it teach valuable coding skills and promote entrepreneurship through startups but it will educate children in a variety of valuable soft and hard skills that are difficult to come by through any other medium.
Not only that but it will likely inspire other African countries into adopting similar programs, hopefully uplifting the entire continent.