BusinessDay
Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

Why children should be exposed early to coding, other programming skills

Most of the famous programmers in the world started off learning at an early age applying their skills. Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Muhammad Hamza, and many others, all started early.
Gates wrote his first video game at the age of 15, Hamza at 9 is already the youngest coder in the world.
Programming is becoming an essential skill needed the world over. Coding teaches the power of persistence, structured and creative thinking, and plays a vital role in our everyday lives.

Understanding computers and learning the basics of coding helps children to develop an appreciation of how things work. If children learn how to code when they are young, they will develop fluidity in their thinking, which means they will be able to tell a story in an exact particular order.

Besides, programme developers are in high demand today because their skills fetch them jobs across various levels, and software engineers are one of the most sought-after professionals today.

In the 21st-century labour market, computer science experts work in systems design firms, electronic product manufacturing companies, oil companies, commercial banks, and other multinational firms across borders.

Coding is the process of using a programming language to get a computer to behave how you want it to.

According to Glassdoor.com the national average salary for software developers is NGN 238,500 per month in Nigeria. Salaries estimates are based on 644 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor.com by software developer employees. Python developers’ salary scale is at about N335, 000 for a starter.

It is expected that by 2025 some 1.9million jobs and $20billion (about N10, 600billion) will accrue to Nigeria as technology continues to offer people new opportunities.

Read also: Empowerment: NGO trains orphans, youths in skills acquisition in Oyo

Besides, the survey further predicts that 46 percent of all work activities in Nigeria are susceptible to automation.

The services of computer code experts are needed at various levels to program the websites, apps, and other technologies we interact with every day. If a parent wants his or her child to work in a high-paying field like software engineering, web development, or data science, then such a child needs to understand how to use code.

There are numerous benefits to being exposed to coding skills such as making a child smarter, making a more positive impact on a child’s career, earning more money, enhancing his or her social life, among others.

Research has proven that most professional developers started learning their trade early in life. According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developers survey, over 54 percent of professional developers wrote their first line of code by the time they turned 16.

While it might seem intuitive to schedule a child’s first coding lesson into their high school curriculum, children can start coding at a much younger age, sometimes as early as four years old.

Lagos State is at the forefront of leveraging technology and internet connectivity to deliver quality education to students by exposing them to coding and other programming skills in line with goals 4,9 and 10 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SFGS).

CodeLagos is an initiative of the Lagos State Government to teach the state’s residents how to code. The initiative was launched way back in 2016 to teach one million Lagosians how to code before 2019 to make Lagos the technology frontier for Africa.

Consequently, in May 2017, the Lagos State Ministry of Education kicked off CodeLagos to teach students in primary and secondary schools how to code.

Aletile Afolake, one of the beneficiaries of the Lagos State organised CodeLagos training programme bared her mind to BusinessDay.

“The CodeLagos programme is an eye-opener to teaching and learning beyond standing before the students to teach. We were exposed to the computer programme ‘Scratch’ which is structured to create animations, games, and cartoons.

The scratch programme is meant for Junior Secondary Schools, while python programme is for Senior Secondary Schools. Python is actually for teaching and learning computer programming”, she said.

Lizzy Ohaka, an Early Childhood Education specialist applauded the Lagos State government for the initiative and implored parents to avail their wards of the privilege. She reiterated that this will certainly put the young minds on the path to success.

“Exposing children to coding and other programming languages is invaluable in the times we live in. The 21st century is technologically driven, innovations keep coming up now and then. Inculcating the knowledge, skill, and attitude of technology and algorithms will put them on the path of success”, she said.

Ohaka explained that it is important that students are learning computer programming because they will be able to go into school and come out better prepared to face real-life situations.

Sunday Adewale, a software expert believes the knowledge of coding and other programming skills will improve children’s critical thinking ability.

“Programming skills help in problem solving with great analytical skills”, he stated.

Now that the world is going fully digital, Adewale emphasised that acquiring coding and other programming skills will help children keep up with new trends as it concerns web and mobile apps developments.

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