My reason for joining the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) board was clear – we need to organise ICT professionals and position them as a knowledge source for our growing economy. If that mission could benefit from my experience then I was definitely in.
That mandate includes preparing the next generation of professionals in the hope that they will achieve far greater heights than their predecessors.
The ambition to develop the next generation has led the IIPGH to foray into delivering coding classes for young people. Early exposure will set them up for future success and build a ready pipeline we can all be proud of.
When I look back at the progress made so far in empowering young people through coding, I like to see the glass as half full. Over the course of just one generation we have seen dramatic progress in enabling access to coding thanks to the effort of early believers.
One of the earliest proponents of access to computer skills in Ghana was the late Prof. Allotey. He was a brilliant mathematical physicist who could see, from his extensive exposure and engagement, that we had to proactively engage and create opportunities for more participation. I believe his advocacy is a reason why I received my early exposure.
It was the long vacation of form 3. A fully paid computer camp, dubbed CompuCamp, had been set up on the grounds of Achimota School. Thirty three secondary schools from across the country were asked to nominate a student each to represent their school during a 3-week long intensive residential course in coding. Somehow, my school decided that I would be the representative. It was such a privilege and novelty. The 33 of us had our names published in the national newspapers and announced on GBC radio and TV (now GTV)! Imagine that? For my part I could not believe what was happening.
It was an eye-opening experience. We learnt to code on what were large computers that used floppy diskettes. If you are too young to know what that is then please search the internet!
We learnt to program in C+, were treated to sumptuous meals and we made new friends. One of my closest friends to this day was one I met at CompuCamp. Another person I met at CompuCamp is a current sitting MP who is doing very well.
Post the camp, all 3 of us girls from different backgrounds went on to study science-based courses at University and started our careers in these fields. I guess we were already like-minded enough in our interests.
Today coding is no longer a novelty, it is gradually becoming a necessary empowerment tool for our young people.
Today our world runs on a frontier of Data Science. I recently decided to come up to speed on Data Science; to understand what it is about because as a business leader, I am aware no business, run to scale, can survive without deep analytics. I realized my studies in coding, mathematics, statistics and decision sciences have all come to bear. It all makes sense now.
Coding is one of the key skills for the future of work. We must encourage our children to get conversant with it. To understand how it works no matter what career path they opt to take.
Will your kids be part of the coding generation?