The projects aims at introducing coding to children aged 9-11 and further encourage this as a school course.
More than 100 students have graduated from the “Code Academy” – free programming courses for children – over a year and a half. The Academy has received about 1,500 applications from those wishing to attend the next courses. This was stated by Аnton Melnyk, co-founder of the project “Code Academy”, at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “We have a stereotype that it is only for unique people. But computer programming can be taught to absolutely every child. The main thing is a motivation. […] Our goal is to teach programming nationwide and make it available in every school, as it is in developed countries, because this is our future,” he noted.
According to Mr. Melnyk, developed countries start teaching programming from primary school. First, it is the most advanced area. Second, it is possible that soon not only employees of the IT sector but also many other professionals will need basic programming skills. “If you look at the economic structure of developed countries, the largest companies now are IT companies. The only proper way for Ukraine is to develop innovative environment, innovative economy, and train and teach people from an early age,” said Yuriy Nazarov, advisor to Kyiv City Mayor, co-coordinator of Kyiv Smart City initiative. “Tomorrow coding will be as common a tool as the ability to make a spreadsheet in Excel and a Power Point presentation. Our children must have competitive advantages along with their peers in the world in 5-10 years,” added Yaroslava Boyko, co-coordinator of Kyiv Smart City initiative.
The target audience of the “Code Academy” is 9-11 year-old children. They are taught by IT professionals who work in different companies and joined the project on a voluntary basis. The program was developed on the model of the British Code Club initiative based on the Scratch program, which is designed specifically for beginners. “It takes us about 70 percent of time to teach children Scratch and about 30 percent – HTML and CSS. Whereas in case of Scratch, a visual result can be seen immediately, in case of CSS and HTML, it can be seen after work completion,” informed Аnton Melnyk. “Despite the stereotype of coding as boring and difficult process, it is very creative. Those programming languages that we remember as unattractive are changing. There are many languages, where you can show your creativity and do cool things,” he added.
The group consists of 8 to 13 students. The course lasts 3 months; classes are held on Saturday in Kyiv Smart City Hub and last 1 to 2 hours, depending on how quickly all students grasp the tasks. First, the new material is explained to all. Then a mentor clarifies it to each of them. After the course children are able to perform basic operations and have ideas about how to improve their knowledge. Anton Melnyk added that some of the graduates also come to help their peers who have just joined the course.
You can join the course on Kyiv Smart City or “CodeAcademy” websites.” Given the large number of applications from children of all ages, children of 9-11 years will be accepted first.
“CodeAcademy” plans to improve this method and then distribute it in Kyiv and elsewhere as an optional subject within the school curriculum. Besides, a next course for the graduates of the basic 3-month course will be developed. Yaroslava Boyko urged all professionals who have expertise in this area and want to share them to join the initiative.