Teaching computer coding in schools can lead to resistance at different levels of education systems. Some educators, teachers, policymakers and even parents may be opposed to the idea of teaching coding to children, believing that the material is complex and should be reserved for the more advanced educational levels.
We think it imperative that children, as well as teachers and parents, understand the challenge of introducing this new multidisciplinary academic content. An enormous task lies ahead, as this involves teaching new material without having a pedagogical team with prior training in this field and in a context where educators often still belong to an era where, from a disciplinary standpoint, their training was based on a vertical specialization model.
To meet this challenge successfully, partnerships among schools, enterprises, universities, regional and local authorities, private education stakeholders, parents of students and research entities are critical.
Let us build the bridges needed among the different stakeholders to successfully face this challenge together, for the sake of our continent.
Why partnerships are essential
First, it is imperative that the different education ministries in our countries incorporate computer coding and robotics instruction into school curricula as early as possible (starting in the lower grades, with a greater mix of offline/online activities so as to limit screen time and encourage hands-on experimentation).
Second, schools clearly need to continue to be given the tools essential for this learning (computers, internet connections, educational robots). This must also be part of a joint initiative involving all relevant stakeholders (ministries, foundations, NGOS, specialized training providers), so as to encourage African youth to learn coding.
However, in addition to developing the “hardware,” which many countries are currently doing reasonably well, the keys to this specific mode of learning must also be handed over to school teachers. In other words, the “software” or learning methodology, namely “active pedagogy,” needs to be developed.
This is the biggest challenge that involves changes in pre-service training, the ad hoc recruitment of trainers, incentive-based continuing education proposals to teachers, etc.