Education

Preparing For The Future: Why Coding Is A 21st Century Skill That We Must Learn To Master

The demand for computing skills has grown tremendously in Southeast Asia, with Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia leading the way.

As a testament to this, coding is now even offered as an enrichment programme in Singapore schools just like music and ballet, as the country establishes itself as a tech hub.

In 2017, computing was actually offered as an O-level subject at Secondary 3 across 19 schools. 6 IP schools and junior colleges also offer computing as an A-level subject.

Malaysia has also added coding to the national school curriculum, and is currently offered to Year 6 and secondary school students. From 2020 onwards, coding will also be taught through the Design and Technology subject to Year 4, 5 and 6 students.

Meanwhile, Thailand announced last year that it is aiming to train 10 million young Thais in coding and computer science over three years through CodingThailand.org. This website is designed to foster an interest in computing, especially for those without access to computer science education in the more rural areas.

With the strong push in coding education regionally, it’s clear that digital literacy is important in preparing us for the future, which will be driven by more computing technology.

But What Exactly Is The Real Value In Coding?

From building a website to developing an app, there are so many real-world coding applications that can solve everyday problems. It also helps power our digital world, like social media, online banking, self-driving cars and robotics.

While many think that coding only benefits coders and programmers, it is actually a valuable skill that helps you in everyday life and in any industry that deals with computers – which is just about everything.

In the words of the indelible Steve Jobs, “Everyone should know how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think”.

In order to communicate with the computer, you need to order your thoughts in a logical, structured way. This way of thinking sharpens your reasoning and problem-solving skills and you’ll be able to see problems from a different angle, and logical solutions will become more easily apparent.

Having a background in coding is also an essential 21st-century skill, and is something that will come in handy in any career path you might pursue. Think about it — barely any discipline or profession today remains untouched by computation.

With the rise of technological advancements like AI and robots, over 2 million jobs are set to be created by 2020. These jobs of the future will come with new demands, and coding — along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education — will be as important as reskilling in order to stay relevant.

Coding also complements and reinforces other important fundamental skills, such as problem-solving and teamwork. It is an extension of critical and creative thinking, develops logic, and accelerates the power and potential of individuals to innovate and unlock possibilities to create new things.

Want To Master The Language?

It’s clear that coding is the language of the future, and given that disruption takes place at breakneck speed, there is no better time to start than now.

As the saying goes, the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.

Coding might sound like a complex thing to learn, but it’s actually easier than you think — all it takes is just a bit of practice!

Young children can start learning conceptually with drag-and-drop programming apps like Scratch and Hopscotch, while those who are seeking basic coding knowledge can learn more about traditional programming languages like JavaScript, Python and Ruby.

At the upcoming SG:Digital Wonderland 2019 organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), technology familiarisation is the underlying theme and you can attend free workshops and have fun learning about coding and digital making.

Formerly known as Tech Saturday (Upsized!), Singapore’s largest tech carnival is a two-day event that lets everyone — regardless of age — discover, experience and innovate with technology.

Image Credit: IMDA

You can witness talented Singapore youths battle it out to solve real-world problems for good social causes using technology in the Tech for Good coding competitions.

On 18 May, there is a computer programming competition Code Quest organised by Lockheed Martin where teams of 2 to 3 (aged 14 to 18) will work together for 2.5 hours to solve problems with JAVA, Python, VB.net, C and/or C++ programming to complete the “quest”.

There is also a 3D Tronic Digital Making for Good Challenge, where participants can showcase their skills in digital making and coding for good social causes. This challenge is open to the public, and keen participants can submit their registrations here until 15 May.

On the second day, there is also a Build On, Singapore 2019 hackathon — jointly organised by IMDA, GovTech, Singapore Polytechnic and Amazon Web Services (AWS) — that challenges students to create a safe and smart home environment for seniors and persons with disabilities using technology.

A Tech for Good Exhibition, organised by students and the people from Engineering for Good and Tech Pals, will be taking place on both days. It will showcase tech prototypes that are developed specifically for digitally at-risk groups such as special needs kids and seniors with dementia.

In addition, the event will host Youth Innovation Showcase and Awards 2019, which celebrates and recognises innovative and cutting-edge tech prototypes of students from the Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore and around the region.

Image Credit: IMDA

Beyond these, you can also discover how to enhance your personal digital defence and interact with the latest AI-powered robots, as well as challenge yourself to a game of Augmented Reality dodgeball or shoot some VR zombies at the Digital Media Playground.

Check here for a full list of activities and don’t forget to mark your calendar for a fun-filled weekend! There’s bound to be something for everyone, so make a date with your friends or bring your family and kids down!

SG:Digital Wonderland 2019
18 and 19 May, 11am to 8pm
Suntec City Convention Centre (Hall 404-406)
Admission is free

Featured Image Credit: Sg Code Campus

This article was written in collaboration with Infocomm Media Development Authority.

 

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