With Kenya fast becoming one of Africa’s booming tech leaders, teaching young children computer skills has become increasingly important.
Educational experts believe that in the future, many jobs will be carried out through technology and that it is therefore imperative that they start learning the skills at a young age.
Anne Njine, an education specialist at the organisation, Opportunity International EduFinance said it is estimated that in the next 15 years, 75 per cent of jobs will require computer skills.
“Once we expose children, they are able to feel hopeful for the future because they are moving in the direction that the world of work is moving into,” she said.
By the time they start working, they will be “equipped and ready to go into the world of work with the right key skills that are needed for employability”.
One organisation that is helping with this task is Code With Kids, a technology-based initiative that works with children in the slums of the Nairobi suburb of Kibera, teaching them how to code and the concept of robotics.
“A free kick to their future”
It’s founder, Renice Owino, says the organisation is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to children and young adults from low-income areas.
The facility in Kibera is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that includes laptops and robotic kits. The project is partly funded by parents, and partly by charities.
“Most kids programmes in Nairobi go for approximately Ksh 5,000 which is around $50. This is way out of the pocket for parents in Kibera. We bring the same programme to the children at the affordable price of Ksh 50 per session,” she said.
“Parents are able to pay for this without feeling a strain and the children are able to learn. We are giving these young learners a free kick to their future.”
Owino is particularly proud of the programme’s ability to appeal to young girls.
“Currently we are seeing more girls coming for the classes. This was a challenge when we started and it was really hard convincing them to come,” she said.
When a child joins the programme, they are first taught the basics of how a computer works before advancing to skills such as web development, mobile application design, gaming and physical computing.
Through the initiative, they have been able to develop new skills. Many of the children have completed innovative projects and some have even created their own websites and applications.
Code With Kids began in 2015 with 10 participants and has so far reached over 2,000 children through collaborations with schools in after-school programmes and coding bootcamps.
Owino hopes it will make them more equipped and adaptable to Africa’s job market – in which coding is a coveted skill.