On the 26th of February 2016, UNESCO held a stakeholder meeting to discuss the findings of the YouthMobile coding workshop held in November 2015 which also served as a feasibility study to include a coding and computational thinking element into the Namibian public school curriculum.
The YouthMobile Initiative attempts to introduce young people to computer science programming (learning-to-code) and problem solving (coding-to-learn).
What is coding and computational thinking?
Coding refers to the creation of software for various platforms such as desktop PCs, mobile phones and other automated systems. Computational thinking refers to an open ended cognitive process that encourages arriving at meaningful answers using decomposition, data representation, generalization, modelling, and algorithms.
It was the second meeting to be held to plan how the Namibian implementation of UNESCO’s YouthMobile program will move forward in 2016 and beyond. Stakeholders present included amongst others:
- University of Namibia‘s education faculty
- International University of Management’s Software development department
- The Office of The President of Namibia
- The Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service
- National Youth Service
- Directorate of Teaching and Learning at NUST
- Namibian Business Innovation Institute
- National Anti Corruption Commission
- The Tech Guys
The coding workshop outcomes and findings, presented by Teaching and Learning unit of NUST Director Maurice Nkusi, highlighted the need to update the computer studies component of Namibian public school curriculum and how YouthMobile could serve as a platform to be leveraged towards that outcome. 2 functional application prototypes were demonstrated by workshop participants and the remaining certificates awarded to those not present at previous award ceremony in 2015.
“Coding refers to the writing of software for various platforms, be it desktop PCs, mobile phones and other automated systems.”
It was decided that 3 additional regions are to be targeted during 1st half of 2016 beginning with a ‘Training of Trainers’ phase with additional logistical support from The National Youth Service and NBII. Simultaneously UNAM and NUST are to assist in reviewing how open source derived course materials developed for YouthMobile by The Tech Guys can be implemented into the national curriculum.
Furthermore, it was discussed how Code.org, which has expressed interest in becoming a partner in the Tech Guys endeavour to positively disrupt the Namibian education system can become involved with an agreement has been formed with the education faculty at UNAM and subsequently other organizations to pursue the opportunity.
The program also received tentative support from the Office of The President represented by it’s Youth Advisor, Daisry Mathias, who stressed the need for the various players in Namibian digital innovation to stop operating in silo’s and form cohesive partnerships that could interface with government in a more efficient manner.