As the world grows increasingly connected and technological, the tide of calls for people to work in the technology industry grows every day. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs created in 2015 were in computer science – almost seven million of them.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand the push for more students to learn coding and other computer science-related skills. Even the U.N. Secretary General has called for “greater investments in computer science.” Investments in these occupations also present a great opportunity for developing countries to move forward technologically and socioeconomically.
One organization in Ghana helps increase the number of students interested in computer science and teaches children coding. In 2016, the Ghana Code Club began in order to teach children in Accra computer programming skills. Because the school curriculum in Ghana does not include technology, this club addresses the learning gap through after-school programming. Ernestina Appiah, the club’s current CEO, founded Ghana Code Club and also organizes the activity at multiple schools.
After working as a secretary in IT, Ernestina Appiah realized how valuable basic coding skills could be. Then, she learned how to design a few of her own websites. Soon after, she founded the organization as a project in partnership with the iSpace Foundation. Now the Ghana Code Club serves students between the ages of eight and 17 in different areas of Ghana after school.
Students who participate in the after school program gain valuable skills they can use in any career path. From building and designing websites with HTML to game creation using Scratch, students who participate in the after school activity can explore all of their interests. Girls, especially, have the opportunity to gain a foothold into the world of technology.
Programs run by trained volunteers and ICT teachers operate in 13 schools across the country. IT professionals train volunteers and primary school teachers who have no prior coding experience. Teachers and volunteers then team up to teach participants. Young children who participate get an early introduction into the world of computers, while older children learn Python, HTML and CSS. All students have the opportunity to learn and work with Scratch.
The Ghana Code Club also cycles through different schools, community centers and libraries to further expand its reach. With its dedicated CEO, team and board, it shows no signs of stopping.
By helping students gain important skills by promoting coding in Ghana, the Ghana Code Club increases the competitiveness of students entering the workforce. As the program expands, more and more children will have the opportunity to impact their communities and make a better future for themselves by learning these invaluable skills.
– Selasi Amoani