Given the new reality of work ushered in by the global Covid-19 pandemic, it has now become essential for youth to become skilled in disciplines that will become increasingly more important in the future.
So says founder of Future Learning Institution, Filbert Mushiringi, as they wrapped up an intensive three-week coding training programme at Uyesu Unathi Projects in Khayelitsha last Thursday.
The programme was spearheaded by the Future Learning Institution in conjunction with the university of Mercer in the United States, CodeTellegence, CoderLevelUp, Ubomi and Uyesu Unathi Projects.
Forty young people from Khayelitsha took part in the programme, which is aimed at empowering them in coding skills, while the university brought 19 students.
Mr Mushiringi believes that having computer skills is essential and no longer a “nice-to-have”. Gone are the days where coding was seen as a field reserved for nerds.
He said their focus this year was not only on coding but also cyber security and focus on how useful the internet can be.
They also worked on data science, using various applications to learn how to look at information and how to process it.
“We want to grow this project and not only be conducted during the school holiday but almost every month.
“We want young people from the township to become creators and not just consumers of technology and the youth are the ones who are going to make it happen.
“I believe that coding is no longer a luxury but a necessary skill for youth to have because it encourages innovation and is a skill that can be used across the technology spectrum,” he said.
Mr Mushiringi said he started the programme in 2017 after he saw a massive gap in the township.
When he started, he had about 10 children but now he is excited to see 40 young people showing interest in this field.
Professor Bob Allen from the University of Mercer in the United States, said what keeps bringing them to South Africa, is the passion to see children learn and his students learn through a cultural exchange of knowledge and coding experience.
He said through their partnership they wanted to see children being able to create games and solving world problems.
He said they wanted to see these young people building computers or tearing down computers and rebuilding them.
“One of the university goals is to learn to serve and help out to make the world a better place even if its little baby steps.
“To see young people from Khayelitsha zealous about learning coding and seeing them feel happy that makes us feel happy too.
“We are helping young people to become creators in the future. I would love to see some of these young people becoming Mercer’s students in the future,” he said.
Paul Nolingo, a graduate from CodeTellegence, a non-profit company that teaches computer science, said he has learnt a lot from this programme and feels equipped.
He encouraged young people to explore coding as another career and stop with the negative perception that it is only for people who are seen as nerds.