Computer coding, programming to be rolled out in local primary schools

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Computer coding, programming to be rolled out in local primary schools

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – An important component of information technology (IT), particularly computer code and coding/programming, is expected to be rolled out in primary schools across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in the not too distant future.

Speaking at the Team Unity People’s Forum March 13, at the St. Johnston Community Centre, the Honourable Shawn Richards, deputy prime minister and minister of education, said that it is important to implement the initiative and noted that his ministry will work closely with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that it comes to fruition, as it will prove beneficial to young people and the country on a whole.

“We want our young people to be able to compete with other young [people], not just here in the region, but throughout the entire world, and that is why we want to start teaching them computer programming,” said Minister Richards, adding that technology is the way forward. “Technology is the way that the world has been going, and the world will continue to go in that direction. Our children must not be left behind and this Team Unity administration will not leave our children behind.”

The Hon. Vincent Byron, minister with responsibility for information technology, said that one of the areas that the government has to focus on is the development of the federation’s people, especially the youth, hence the importance of the initiative been rolled out at such an early stage in life.

“… We have been having discussions with the Ministry of Education… in ICTs to be able to start teaching code and coding to primary school kids so that from 5- and 6-year-olds who today are adept in using cellphones and tablets will get to understand the basic rudiment of how they work, how to do applications and how to develop skills so that in five to 10 years, we would be having a society that we can say is a digital society,” said Minister Byron during an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS).

He noted that not everyone would be a coder or someone who works in IT, but the majority of society would have been exposed to how IT functions and that would make it more acceptable to be able to find work in the sector.

“We believe that if we teach our people the basics of the IT evolution and revolution that we can attract international businesses that people know – the Amazons and Googles – to set up shop here, to function here and to be able to have a workforce…at every level,” he said. “And so, it is something that we feel is very important to start at a very early age and to grow as we evolve.”

Minister Byron said that a number of outcomes are expected once the programme is implemented.

“We would expect that [during] the next five to 10 years, our students at the primary school level would go on to high school and that more and more of them would want to get further training in IT in various aspects,” he said. “They would become information systems analysts and managers in IT. They would have a whole range of things that they can do, or even work in other fields that require IT knowledge – whether in agriculture or health – that would make us more adaptable.”

He added that officials from his ministry have held discussions with the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) and a curriculum is currently being worked on to incorporate code and coding. Minister Byron is hoping for the programme to be rolled out in September for the new school year 2018-2019.

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