KICD approves Kenya's first coding syllabus for schools

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development CEO Prof Charles Ochieng Ong’ondo. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The government has approved a new syllabus for teaching coding in primary and secondary schools.

Coding, also known as programming, involves translating human intentions into commands that computers can understand. Without it, computers would be useless.

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chief executive Prof Charles Ong’ondo said coding is a practical thinking activity that enables children to imagine, create and solve problems.

“In the past, coding was conceived as a high-level activity yet children can start engaging in early learning levels,” he said.

Prof Ong’ondo said the classes involve practical lessons. 

In Kenya, the syllabus shall be offered by Kodris Africa, an online publishing firm that specialises in equipping learners with 21st-century skills such as creative problem solving and algorithmic thinking right from the elementary level.

A letter dated April 19 by Prof Ong’ondo approved the submission by Kodris Africa.

“The content ... was quality assured and approved. The conditions for utilisation will be included in the list of approved Digital Curriculum Support materials,” reads the letter seen by The Standard.

Kenya is the first African country to approve this kind of syllabus. Kodris will be offering the syllabus in another 48 nations on the continent.

“We are talking to telcos, banks and other partners for the rollout,” Prof Ong’ondo said.

Kenyan children join a growing list of global giants like the United States, England, Finland, France, Turkey, Germany, and Israel who have made programming a key area of study from the elementary level.

The approval by KICD comes days after ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru unveiled the Kenya National Digital 2022-32 master plan.

Kodris Africa CEO Mugumo Munene [File]

The blueprint guides the ICT sector in accelerating socio-economic growth.

Kodris Africa CEO Mugumo Munene said coding as a subject of study is in line with the government’s efforts to promote technology use under the digital literacy programme launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016.

He said the syllabus will put learners on equal footing with those from developed nations.

“In a heavily computerised and digital world, a skill set in computer science has become a necessity,” Mr Munene said.

He added that the rollout plan will be carried out in partnership with key education stakeholders.

“When students learn to code they can become producers in this 21st century digital age rather than merely consume what is created by others.” 

The Kodris Africa syllabus covers primary school and lower secondary school, has a learner-friendly interface and can be taught by any schoolteacher.

“A teacher does not need to have a background in STEM or ICT to teach coding through the Kodris programme,” Mr Munene said.

The CEO continued to say Kodris is in talks with Rwanda and Uganda to launch the classes in their countries.

The online platform contains a learner’s guide for students and licensed teachers.

“Kodris Africa is well designed to deliver algorithmic thinking, design, and analytics.”

The Kodris syllabus will be presented to learners through an interactive online studio accredited by Pearson.

Cem Sezer, the Pearson Country Sales Manager in Turkey where the online platform was first developed and tested, said: “Pearson Assured is a service that independently benchmarks and verifies the training provided by various organisations and agencies around the world.”