Google has launched its programme to teach South African learners the fundamentals of computer science. Known as CS First, the computer science programme aims to train more than 30,000 South African learners across the country's 9 provinces in the space of 12 months.

The Google South Africa CS First programme was launched at an event that included government, members of the education community, and community leaders.

“If South Africa is to compete globally, its learners need to have a strong digital skills base. With CS First, we’re setting up that foundation, equipping them for success later on. We are also aiming to encourage girls into the technological world, with a goal of reaching a 60% female inclusion rate into the project," said Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, Policy and Government Affairs, Google South Africa.

Preparing youth for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

For several years there has been a lot of talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa. Part of that talk has involved discussions around how South African youth can be prepared for the jobs of the future and what they need to be educated in today so that they are employable in the future.

Created by educators, Google's CS First programme aims to introduce students to computer science fundamentals in a collaborative environment. Students watch instructional videos while simultaneously building projects in Scratch, a blocks-based programming language. The computer science fundamentals programme targets learners in grades 4 to 8, although it may also be useful for learners up to grade 10. Globally, more than 2-million learners have experienced CS First.

The official launch of CS First comes off the back of a successful pilot project which saw 2,400 learners from selected South African public schools and 2 community centres, in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces, get hands-on with CS First.

The launch also ties in with Google’s work through 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. Its community training sessions have targeted underserved areas to expand digital skills to a diverse range of people.

“Google is always inspired to see what people can do when they have access to technology. 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," concluded Mgwili-Sibanda.

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