Technology has an everlasting influence on our society and economy, and due to its constant development, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be created. This highlights the importance of technology within our changing society and the skills needed for the future workforce.
Many of the skills that are important for the future – including critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving – can come from learning to use tools that allow us to control technology. These skills enable children to be versatile in a world where transitions through various jobs are inevitable. This is why the Coding Club is more than just learning how to code: it is a platform from which children can not only develop technological skills, but also be inspired to engage with technology in the future.
Taking place at The Ismaili Centre over five weeks, the Coding Club, delivered with Fire Tech, was an opportunity for the children to learn how to code in a friendly and open environment. Some had no previous exposure to coding while others were more experienced. The participants were split into two groups (based on their ages – which ranged from 9 to 17) and were assigned tasks with the goal of developing their coding skills along with other soft skills such as communication and teamwork. The sessions were interactive through the use of programmable robots and animation creation tools, and thought-provoking by engaging students to think about smart solutions to coding related problems. This enabled the participants to learn a range of new techniques, including eventually introducing them to learn how to code using Microbits. Microbits are small pocket-sized computers which can be programmed into thermometers, fitbits, and even games. By exciting their curiosity and engaging them with technology, they are developing the all-important skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing world.
The Coding Club offered children the opportunity to meet Ismaili brothers and sisters of the same age with common interests. During the final week of the programme, the participants gave a presentation on what coding means to them and how it is an asset to the AKDN and the Jamat. Coding is an asset to the Jamat because it shows what the future holds for the younger generation. For example, educating our youth with knowledge of how to code and the benefits of coding means that in the future our young leaders will be able to create programmes and apps that the institutions can make use of. Some notable quotes from parents of children who attended Coding Club include: “My daughter really enjoyed the course and the content was just perfect for this age group.”, “The programme helped in growing children's knowledge and confidence”, “My son absolutely loved this course and was sad on the last day as he wanted it to continue”.
The Coding Club is one of AKEB’s initiatives to develop children’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics capabilities. Other activities include “Tech Jams” – a two-day hackathon, a Space Camp, and Science Fair. By exposing our children to as many STEM opportunities as possible, we will keep enhancing the skills that are most relevant in the coming years. We have entered the fourth industrial revolution – the era of technological intelligence (the first three being steam, electricity and computers). This is, and will continue to, transform our lives. We must now look forward and prepare the future generations to obtain the skillset needed by offering courses to garner their long term interest in these fields, in order to capitalise on the opportunities that will present themselves in the future.