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Can you code for the future?

With the global economy approaching the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Paarl’s future workforce must consider local skills development programmes.

One such crucial skill is coding which directly correlates with programming and robotics. Four Paarlites saw the need for children to start learning the relevant languages of coding and founded the Paarl Coding and Robotics Academy. The academy’s hub is located at Frater Square in Main Road, Southern Paarl.

Co-founder Riël Malan said coding will be as important as reading for future workforces. He said they initiated the concept as a means to make coding lessons accessible in Paarl.

He experiences automation in his profession as managing director of a company specialising in fresh produce packing, processing, export and import of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

“I want my children to be able to learn to code as it is so important, so we just thought why not make it available for everyone,” said Riël.

The academy is working in partnership with CodeSpace, a Cape Town based coding company which provides accredited coding courses. At the academy robotics and coding are connected for practical reasons, so that learners can see how coding is used in practice and not simply as an abstract concept on a computer. A robot’s movement is programmed by coding.

On Monday 7 October the academy will launch its first class at the hub. Currently, the academy accommodates learners from grade 8 to 12, but as of January 2020, grade 4 to 7 learners will also be able to enrol. The academy is also working with Paarl Boys’ High School and High School La Rochelle. “Eventually, we want it to be accessible to all schools and make it inclusive,” he said and emphasised the importance of philanthropy for lower-income schools. “Theoretically, if a learner completes the course, they will be awarded a Microsoft Junior Programmer certificate.”

Riël said there is also a need for an adult course. He emphasised that if more people enrol, the courses would become cheaper. The academy is also looking to launch a tertiary qualification course for graduates which will last six months for four days a week and cost R28 000.

“With this we can give a person a career,” said Riël. He added that the vision of the Paarl Coding and Robotics Academy is to improve Paarl’s digital skills. At the end of this tertiary course, graduates will receive a Microsoft Senior Programmer certificate.

The academy is privately funded and Riël said they are looking for philanthropists to help with bursaries. Given Paarl’s high unemployment rate, the academy can equip young people to pursue sustainable careers.

Those interested can contact the academy on paarlcoding@gmail.com with queries.

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