ICT is essential in early education
Integration of ICT as a subject in primary educationThe world we live in is changing constantly, and information and communications technologies (ICT) are 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," ICT minister Peya Mushelenga said recently at the National Conference on Education in Windhoek.
The embrace 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.
Primary, secondary, and university students are tech-smart, but they need a more structured way of harnessing and improving their knowledge and boosting their skills. Introducing ICT classes at primary school lays the foundation upon which they can build and develop their skill set.
Having a firm grasp of IT skills will elevate the children’s literacy and numeracy skills. In countries across the world, children are already taught ICT skills from a young age.
Overcome the challenge
If Namibia wants to be competitive, ensure the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) benefits the nation, and ensure the digital divide does not increase, teaching at the primary level is vital.
Without a doubt, to have an effective implementation of ICT in early education, 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, but its impact is also far greater. We have seen how western countries have utilised and grown with the use of technology.
Implementing ICT at an early age will have a huge impact on Namibia in the long run. This makes Namibia much more competitive globally and attracts investors. The next Facebook, Amazon, or TikTok, could be created by a Namibian.
Setting the pace
Kenya, for example, recently became the first African country to teach coding as a subject in schools.
Kenya’s president believes that the implementation will establish the country’s leadership in ICT.
The country is 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.
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