RE: “Police recover over 600 missing laptops in schools” (The New Times, October 24). Allow me to first commend the current efforts in bringing this project to accountability. At every possible stage, it’s mandatory to account for taxpayers’ hard earned cash.
However, as this pleasant effort of recovering the laptops is ongoing, let us not throw out the baby and the bathwater.
Coding/computer programming for kids had been touted as the new literacy. Currently, a multilingual person in this world has distinct advantages. Same way in the near future the ability to programme will be a necessary skill for all.
Coding also teaches kids computational thinking, an important skill in solving problems. It involves breaking a problem down, and mixing in information/data to come to a solution.
Obviously, coding skills will lead to programming careers but other professionals will benefit from a code literate person. Imagine an architect trying to build a house in Kigali’s hilly terrain. He can create a programme that will help him/her come up with an optimised yet aesthetic design for the house.
So important is this skill that President Barack Obama was quoted as telling Americans, “Don’t just play with the phone…programme it!”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s parents got him a computer tutor in middle school (equivalent to P4 - P6 in Rwanda).
The One Laptop per Child comes pre-loaded with Scratch programme, one of the most popular coding apps for young kids. If one builds a house but it didn’t come out the way he wished, does he resign to never building houses again?
It’s time to apply the lessons learned…and try to implement this project in a better way. We should do everything possible to ensure that those laptops never get lost again because they are the backbone of information technology that we need.