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Digital literacy initiative comes to Lesotho


p014ph83Bereng Mpaki

A COMPUTER programing initiative aimed at introducing basic principles of computer programming to children commenced yesterday in Lesotho and will run until 23 October 2016.

Dubbed The Africa Code Week, the initiative is part of a global campaign targeting young children from the ages of eight to 14 to initiate them in the experience of computer programming at a young age.

This is in response to the increasing need for digital literacy in today’s hi-tech society, which makes it difficult for persons without such skills to earn a decent living.

According to Lebohang Kopi, the lead ambassador of the Lesotho Chapter of the Africa Code Week, the initiative is the first of its kind in the country.

He said the initiative was started by SAP, an international software development company as part of its social responsibility work to ensure that computer programming became a “language that today’s youth grow up knowing”.

He said the programme had already been introduced in other countries where it had benefitted thousands of children.

He listed UNESCO Lesotho, the Ministry of Education and Training, Department of Science and Technology and several learnings institutions around the country as stakeholders in the initiative.

“This programme fosters creativity in children from an early age, which is something essential in this Information Technology age,” Mr Kompi said.

He said the programming was done through Scratch, a free visual programming computer game which forced children to inadvertently start coding as they played along.   He said this stimulated the children’s thinking capacity.

“We will hold workshops in different schools in different districts around the country throughout the week as part of the initiative,” he said.

He said the initiative had already been rolled out at Tiny Tots English Medium School in Maseru where their team was accompanied by recording artist Jiji-F who provided motivation and entertainment during the learning process.

Last year, Africa Code Week helped almost 89 000 young people from 17 countries to write their first lines of code and it was also the first time touching a computer for some of them.

Last month, the initiative was awarded the Special Jury Prize in the Business Initiative Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC) from MIT.


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