ICT in primary education essentialThe world we live in is changing constantly and ICT is a huge contributing factor to these changes. Computers and technology are part and parcel of our lives.
Today’s children are growing up surrounded by and becoming familiar with digital technology from a very young age. Children are more advanced in IT than their parents and are learning how to use smart devices through play.
“ICT needs to be included in school curricula to enhance innovation and digital literacy,” Information and Communication Technology Minister, Dr Peya Mushelenga, recently stated at the National Conference on Education in Windhoek.
This embracing and exposure of technology by children offers new opportunities to strengthen many aspects of early childhood development and educational practices if properly managed. The teaching of IT skills in primary schools will develop kids’ ICT capability and literacy. Children will learn through educational play how to apply these skills in a society dominated by technology.
While primary, secondary and university students are tech-smart, they need a more structured manner of harnessing and improving their knowledge and boosting their skills. Introducing ICT classes at primary schools lays the foundation upon which they can build and develop their skill set.
Having a firm grasp of IT skills will elevate children’s literacy and numeracy skills.
In other countries across the world, children are already taught ICT skills from a young age. So, if Namibia wants to be competitive and make the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) benefit the nation and ensure the digital divide does not increase, teaching at the primary level is vital.
Without a doubt, effectively implementing ICT in early education means teachers must also be technically smart. This is a challenge for Namibia, but it is a must to conquer this challenge.
There is a significant amount of support and interest in the education sector for incorporating technology in a meaningful and authentic way into the curriculum.
ICT does not only benefit the girl or boy child, its impact is far greater. We have seen how western countries have utilized and grown with the use of technology. Implementing ICT at an early age will have a huge impact in the long run for Namibia. This will make Namibia much more competitive globally and attract investors. The next Facebook, Amazon, or TikTok could be Namibian!
Kenya for example recently became the first African country to teach coding as a subject in schools. The president of Kenya believes that the implementation will establish the country’s leadership in ICT. Doing so by fostering the growth of ICT-related businesses and creating an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment for the greater adaptation of e-governance. This is something we can and must emulate in Namibia.
The digital world is borderless, and ICT skills are universally required and make people much more employable. Children growing up in a world that not only contains but is also increasingly shaped by ICT, need to be guided. To ensure that our future as a nation does not fall behind as stated by the Harambee Prosperity Plan, Namibia needs to create and facilitate ICT teaching from early childhood education and throughout primary and secondary school, just as our Minister of ICT stated.
* Delano January is the director of Edge Technology Solutions.