The Digital Youth Engagement Programme (DYEP) - Coding in Cyber Caravans, funded to the tune of Rs 4.8 million, was launched today at the Highlands Government School. The aim is to trigger the interest of young learners for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects. DYEP will provide introductory courses in Coding to pupils.
In his address at the event, the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, observed that digital technologies and innovations are reshaping our lives with the world already dominated by computer software. The Internet has changed the way we live, study, play and interact with others, and, at the core of this digital world lies programming, in other words, Coding, he pointed out.
According to him, Coding is indeed a new language that of the new digital world. The current generation of children will need to be technology-literate in order to be competitive on the future job market and not knowing how to code will be as challenging as being illiterate today, he remarked.
Referring to worldwide figures, the Minister indicated that over the next ten years there will be more than 1.4 million programming/technology jobs available, and at the same time, the number of available graduates in Computer Science will sum up to only 400 000 leaving an incredible gap of one million jobs to fill.
Government, emphasised Mr Sawmynaden, is fully aware of the importance of Coding for the younger generation and that is why financial provision was made in Budget 2017-2018 for the implementation of the DYEP. The Minister gave the assurance that no stone will be left unturned for the dissemination of Coding training sessions to the community. The Cyber Caravans and IT Support Officers of the National Computer Board (NCB) will be put to contribution to reach out a maximum number of students and youth around the island of Mauritius, he added.
For her part, the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, said that the DYEP is intricately linked with the ongoing reform in the education sector in Mauritius. This proves that education is continuing its digital mutation with ICT gradually making its mark in the school curriculum, she emphasised. Also, by making pupils discover Coding will help in demystifying ICT and broaden learners' proficiencies.
The Minister expressed her conviction that with the introduction of an elementary knowledge culture related to computer programming from an early age, learners will be able to demonstrate problem-solving skills and logical reasoning during their future studies. Young people, commonly referred as digital natives, are evolving in a new era and are growing up with technology and using technological tools easily and thus it is our duty to provide them with opportunities and ways and means to hone their skills and to ensure that as they grow up they develop adequate competencies to be able to adapt to this digital era, she added.
The NCB, operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, will act as a training service provider to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research for the introduction of Coding to pupils in the primary education sub-sector.
It is estimated that some 2 000 pupils in Grades 4 and 5 will be trained during the first year of the project.
A number of coding skills will be imparted to the students via course materials accessible online from an Open Source coding platform (Code.org). The skills to be taught include: Reinforcement of Pre-requisites (Mouse Skills); Sequence; Debugging Codes; Problems solving; Understanding and Devising of Algorithms; Use of loops; and Online Safety.