Last week as part of the science week, Kid comp camp in partnership with Microsoft East Africa conducted training for young kids on how to code in different low income areas in Nairobi. Science Week is an annual celebration of science around the world and each country organize the celebrations differently. Not many organizations celebrate the week in Kenya and that says a lot about us. I think this is something that we need to change. Science has always been the pillar of modernity and human progress. As a country, we have to put science at the forefront and I hope in future we can have National Science week marked with different scientific activities.
Anyway, On Friday I attended one of the Trainings, organized by YEES Program in Kawangware at St. Francis Catholic Church . Kawangware especially the area where the training was being done might be considered to be a slum but the kids from there are more tech savvy than most would imagine. On top of that their passion and readiness to learn is on another level. Kid Comp Camp and Microsoft East Africa found it easy to train because they already have the basic computing skills.
While sitting there talking to kids about their experience with codes I kept on thinking about why should young kids learn how to code. Then it hits me that just knowing how to use computers is not enough especially for the digital generation. It is important to understand how the computers work, get to know how to manipulate the logic behind the computer “brains”. I remember a quote I read somewhere by Steve Jobs “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” And yes, he was talking about US but the same should be applicable everywhere in the world. It is one of the reasons why I am happy with what Microsoft is doing and I hope they will support more training and different partners to cover the whole country. It will be great if the other big tech companies in the country would do the same.
Most kids are more interested on playing games, when they get their hands on a computer or a smartphone but I guess the parents should be ready to guide them on why it is great for them to learn some other aspect of computing. This might not be an easy or understood career path by most parents but for those in the know should take coding seriously for their young ones. The same goes with teachers, and now with laptops for the class one kids, they should be on the forefront championing the coding course.
The trainers used two software with age groups in mind. Scratch software for the kids over 15 years and Minecraft software for the kids between 5 years and 14 years. Minecraft which has different levels makes it easy for young kids to learn step by step how to code. Minecraft is a Microsoft training product while Scratch was developed by MIT. Also check out our coverage of the training at Kangemi here