kangemi-kids

The first time I handled a computer, or indeed anything tech, I was about 15 years old and in high school. I only had access to my brother’s computer at home and would take full advantage during school holidays.

My brother was the first coder I ever knew I would look at the endless squiggly lines on his comp when he was working and get completely lost. But when he was not working he would let me play around with his computer and that’s how I got to know packages like Microsoft Word and Excel. He even tried to teach me a few lines of code in visual basic and I was really fascinated but unfortunately, coding as a career did not catch on for me. I however still landed in an IT controlled career world.

My childhood was far removed from the modern kid who starts to interact with technology as soon as they can hold anything in their hands. And just as well. The world is getting more and more tech fuelled and looking at global trends in the IT industry, unless we diligently and continuously create a tech enabled future workforce, we’re risking a shortage of skills in the job market in as few as 5-10 years.

Looking at the world now, computer skills have infiltrated just about every industry and coding. Gone are the days when IT and especially coding was reserved for the geeks. Now anyone can be trained to make simple codes and computer skills to be able to develop solutions for every day problems.

Towards this, Microsoft and other partners like NGOs, schools, Government and educators have come together to run the Computer Science Week which started on 5th December and is running upto 11th December. The Computer Science week is being run under the Hour of Code program, a global movement that aims to introduce young children to basic coding in a simple fun environment. The training enables kids to come up with their own simple games by putting together blocks of code. The kids are able to build code for example to control the behaviours of cats, zombies and goats and other features in the Minecraft game.

My colleagues and I spent some time yesterday at the Kangemi Resource centre and watched the trainers from KidsCompCamp teach the kids these simple codes. The keen interest and amusement was evident in their faces and although not all of them will become experts in coding, the computer science seed has been planted at a young age and for many it will grow. Whichever careers they choose in life, high chances are that it will involve IT and this will not be alien to them. With this kind of approach, it is not surprising that within a few years, more young adults will take up IT as careers, or be in IT driven careers.

The children are also taught to collaborate, pool their critical thinking and develop ideas together.

That is how Microsoft’s global CSR project Hour of Code seeks to develop the future workforce.

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