Teaching Pasifika kids to code, crucial for future
It seems to be common for Island parents to want their children to become a lawyer, doctor, All Black or Silver Fern. In fact many will remember this being drilled into them growing up. But the Poly status quo seems to be moving in another direction for younger Pacific parents who are acknowledging the rapidly growing digital era of coding.
Writing code is the way computer programs and apps are made and experts say that coding will soon be the most important language in the world and that children should learn to code as early as possible.
For working mum Leticia Fuimaono of Melbourne, she says there is no reason why Pacific kids can’t dream of coding as a career and work at tech companies like Google and Apple.
“It’s so important for my husband and I to encourage our kids into a career of the future,” she says.
Her daughter, 9-year-old Faith Fuimaono and Faith’s newfound friend, 8-year-old Christian Sagote were part of a handful of Pacific Island children around Australia to participate in ‘Code Camp’ during the school holidays.
The popular Code Camps teach children to write code and build apps as part of school holiday programs and after school camps. The camps have taught more than 18000 primary school students across the country and aims to teach 200,000 children to code by 2020.
The company’s partnership with electronic giants Hewlett Packard ensure children are provided with up-to-date technology and relevant coding education to assist in their learning.
When Leticia found out about the camps, she didn’t hesitate to sign her daughter up.
“My Dad actually discovered this opportunity and approached me with it. I thought why not? Faith enjoys technology and everything to do with it. She also loves to compete with her older brother who is in advanced class at high school.”
For Christian, he says Code Camp was fun and exciting especially that he has made friends with kids ‘who like the same things as him.’
A big fan of Minecraft, he describes creating his first app called MineBlox as a ‘cool experience’ and looks forward to creating more apps and publishing them live – especially if the apps can help people.
“My mum can be forgetful at times,” he says. “And I’d like to create an app that is better than a planner – that can alert her to remember errands and find things like keys.”
According to the Australian Federal Governments future focus report, the constant evolving of technology means that the tech industry will be one of the biggest growth industries by 2025 – projected to increase tech jobs in Australasia by half a million.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education has introduced a revised curriculum that would require schools to teach children how to program computers before the time they reach high school
But Code Camp founder Ben Levi says that schools may not teach kids all they need to know.
“We want to create future entrepreneur, innovators and change-makers,” said Mr Levi.
“We are passionate about upskilling teachers so they have the confidence and desire to facilitate their own classrooms and generate results and outcomes required to build an empowered and equipped generation.
“It will be crucial for young people, our kids, to learn a plethora of complimentary skill sets, including; collaboration, problem solving, project management, analysis, pitching, storytelling and critical thinking skills.”
Microsoft NZ General Manager Barrie Sheers tells SUGA that Pasifika groups are underrepresented in the tech industry.
“We do have a few at Microsoft today but we need more. When we have Pasifika and when we have people from the local area, it helps us as a company speak to the full spectrum of the audience.”
And for those island parents who still want to see their children fulfill their dream of being a doctor? Consider this: Robots could be a thing of the future. Imagine your child being part of a creative team that would code Robots to perform surgery?