Tobago students introduced to computer coding


Students of schools around Tobago learn the basics of computer coding and programing, on a chart using a mouse, while Chief Secretary Farley Augustine seems also intrigued at Digicel Foundation and We Code Caribbean’s launch of the five-week programme at Tobago Information Technology Ltd, at Signal Hill on Monday. Photo by David Reid

Two hundred students from 13 primary schools, including one special-needs school, across the island will, over the next five weeks, be taught coding.

On Monday, the Digicel Foundation and We Code Caribbean launched its Tobago leg of the Caribbean Code + programme at the Tobago Information Technology Ltd in Signal Hill.

The students will be taught how to write codes, making them think like a computer programmer.

Founder and CEO of We Code Caribbean Safiya Olugbala said the registered non-governmental organisation exists to introduce youth, particularly those in rural communities, to code and other computer programming languages.

She said the organistion is fully committed to ensuring equitable access to 21st-century education.

“Our targets are girls, migrant women, the dynamically able, and youths within rural communities.”

In his address, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said Tobago’s development is dependent not only on infrastructural advancements but on the development of young people and making young people self-sufficient.

The development of the island’s people, he said, is securely fastened to Tobago’s economic fortunes.

“The pandemic underscores the importance of exploiting technology to advance the economy. As like it is done across the globe, the pandemic has brought momentum to the island’s thrust towards technological advancements.

“What is stopping our young people from becoming the next Bill Gates, the next Mark Zuckerberg – who says that the next best thing to replace Facebook cannot come out of Tobago? Who says that the next big app cannot come out of little Tobago? It actually can, and how we do that is to start teaching those who are very young among us how to code, how to create games, how to create new opportunities online, how to create solutions to work problems online.”

Augustine said whatever the solution, the island’s young people can create those solutions.

He said parents should not be fearful of their young charges getting involved with technology, and urged them to get involved themselves.

“Teaching in 2022 must go beyond the manual mode that you’ve grown accustomed to. Parenting in 2022 means that you also have to learn how to parent virtually. So if you are a parent in 2022, and you are yet to understand the text lingo associated with technology, then parents you’re outdated and your parenting modes are outdated.

Digicel Foundation director Georgina Peterkin speaks at the launch of the Caribbean Code + programme at the Tobago Information Technology Ltd, Signal Hill on Monday. Photo by David Reid

“You cannot in 2022 not know what LOL and BRB mean. Parents in 2022, your parenting skills must transcend the physical space and must also exist in the virtual world. To be a responsible parent, it means that you have to be able to responsibly monitor what they do on the devices that they have.”

The programme, Augustine said, shouldn’t just be seen as a vacation camp or programme.

“Let’s begin to see how far we can take this, how far we can go with this. Open up your minds young people.

“The world of careers has gone past being a doctor or a lawyer and a teacher or even a politician. The world of careers is so advanced, so many opportunities await you – wealth creation awaits you from these new career opportunities that are available.