Earlier today Google held a launch event for its new CS First training programme. The initiative has taken many guises across the globe, and is now being brought to South Africa by the tech firm along with a number of education partners.
As Google South Africa terms it, CS First is an, “ambitious programme aimed at equipping South African learners with the fundamentals of computer science.”
More specifically the programme aims to train as many as 30 000 learners across South Africa’s nine provinces in the space of one year.
“If South Africa is to compete globally, its learners need to have a strong digital skills base,” says Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, Policy and Government Affairs lead at Google South Africa. “With CS First, we’re setting up that foundation, equipping them for success later on,” he adds.
Created by educators, CS First will introduce students to computer science fundamentals in a collaborative environment, the company confirms. Students watch instructional videos while simultaneously building projects in Scratch, which is a programme also used by the likes of Amazon Web Services for its coding initiatives.
As for what kinds of learners CS First will look to benefit, the programme is aimed in particular at those in Grade 4 to Grade 8, with the computer science knowledge they’ll pick up being useful for those up to a Grade 10 level.
To ensure that the programme addresses the needs of the disconnected and underserved communities, as well as being inclusive, Google South Africa explains that 70 percent of CS First training will be in public schools and 10 percent in special needs schools.
The aforementioned 30 000 learners will be added to the 2 million-plus that Google has already trained via the CS First programme.
“We are also aiming to encourage girls into the technological world, with a goal of reaching a 60 percent female inclusion rate into the project,” adds Mgwili-Sibanda.
Google South Africa also notes that this launch ties in with its Grow with Google initiative across Africa. Over the last two years, it has trained thousands of South Africans on digital skills with the help of its training partners through its Digital Skills for Africa programme, the firm says.
“Google is always inspired to see what people can do when they have access to technology,” Mgwili-Sibanda continues.
“CS First exposes students to coding as a means of developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills which have been identified as essential in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” he concludes.
It should be interesting to see how many learners will be trained in the Google CS First programme over the next 12 months, and whether the firm and its partners can surpass the 30 000 target.