A while back, I dropped computer studies subject in my O-levels(High school) despite being at top of the class. I would score nearly everything in theory but the same wasn’t seen in the practicals. Half of the class would type a document before I’m done with the first paragraph.
We may cite a number of reasons to explain this but the primary cause was obviously the lack of exposure. However, two years later, I was able to write code in MS Visual Basic and even batch files. That’s why many of us think they would be better than they are today if they got exposed earlier but that’s not always the case.
In April this year, the government approved a coding curriculum for primary and secondary students. It was not only exciting but also fulfilling to see Kenya’s education sector shifting towards STEM subjects. Kodris Africa, a leading tech publisher will oversee the syllabus rollout according to KICD.
The feasibility of coding syllabus proposal in Kenya
We have enjoyed the hype and credit of being the first country on the African continent to adopt this curriculum. Now it’s time to assess the feasibility of the entire proposal.
Technology is naturally(though not exclusively) practical. As a result, we need resources like PCs(at least one for every 3 students) and stable internet access for this. Teachers with current hands-on coding skills are also required to implement this curriculum effectively. Yes, it has to be current technologies because software is not as static as Mathematics where the Pythagorean theorem hasn’t changed since 1900 BC.
According to statista.com, approximately 14 million students enrolled for primary and secondary education in Kenya between 2015-2020. To achieve a ratio of 1 PC for every 3 students, we need an obviously inflated budget for approximately 4.7 million PCs. Will this be possible when Jubilee tablets and laptops issued to primary schools are already being sold cheaply in Uganda?
In 2017, I developed a simple program for my former primary school to help in data management and got a chance to interact with these government-issued PCs. The PCs have a high level write-protect feature for any normal user to write/install anything in them. How many P1 teachers in Kenya are tech savvy enough to circumnavigate that and set up developer environment for pupils to learn coding? Let’s think about the probability of having full-time internet connection in a remote primary school in Kitui county. Your guess is just as right as mine.
Professors in Kenyan universities and colleges are still teaching history of computers in 2022 instead of artificial intelligence. Now how will a P1 teacher keep up with the latest and relevant technologies for primary school pupils?
In my own view, this curriculum should be a reserve for institutions of higher learning. At this level, students are fewer and hence, it’s cheaper and more effective to gauge the impact of implementing this curriculum.
Again, it would transform the current state where most computer science graduates from Kenyan universities cannot print ‘hello world’. If primary and secondary school students will end up writing code on pieces on A4 papers like in our colleges, then this syllabus will not add any value at all. It will make no difference.