Catch them young: Raising the next generation of techies

I woke up this morning to prepare a curriculum for an NGO that want to raise girls and women in technology. As I put each bit of the topics together, memories of my early days flooded my head. I’ll share a bit of it, emphasizing why I believe in the mission of organizations like this and why it’s crucial to raise more young tech addicts (yes, addicts) in a country like Nigeria.

Primary 3/4. Mamak Nursery and Primary School, Sagamu

We were introduced to computers. Not in the way other kids in other parts of the world was, but in some kind of funny ways. My school couldn’t afford a computer. We didn’t have a computer teacher. One man will come with a Peugeot 504 with some kind of machine we were told was a computer. He comes once a week. He’ll place the computer and point to the parts of the computer. You dare not touch it. He didn’t even put it on, for once, before I graduated.

JSS 1: Topmost College, Sagamu

Then, I moved on to Secondary School. Fortunately, it was one of those secondary schools that could afford a computer lab – with real computers. For the first time, I saw a computer room with young people operating it. I felt some kind of unusual love. I had always felt the same way during my primary school days even though the computer was never switched on.

Mr. John, a youth corps member at that time was our computer teacher. He taught us the basics – algorithms etc. I started spending my lunch hour in the computer lab. I would beg the seniors to allow me in and convince Mr. John why I needed to play games.

JSS 2/3: Mayflower School, Ikenne

Life happened and I had to leave Topmost College to a public school that will forever change my life – Mayflower.

There I met Mr, Sherifdeen. The first man I met who actually knew more than the history of computers. He knew programming and the hot techy stuffs PC back then. This, I think, is what made the difference between him and others.

He taught basic programming in a way that aroused my interest in technology. He will scream “CD dot dot…” as we learnt basic programming commands in the computer lab. I remember that blue screen. Bleh! :-). Mr. Sherifdeen is the first man apart from relatives to believe in me (my tech skills) at such a tender age. He gave me my biggest opportunity to represent Mayflower in a National Technology Competition. My team came third Nationwide. Age 13.

At that Age 13, I built my first website using FrontPage out of passion that I can still touch till date. The rest is history. While I salute Mr. Sherifdeen, this post is not so much about him. It is about raising more young techies like me at Age 13 because I believe that is best age to sow.

I owe my tech saviness today to the fact that I was exposed to all kinds of gadgets and computers at a young age. To build the future, the least we can do is to equip the younger generation with marketable skills of the future.

Catch them young

If we don’t raise them at 13, they may not become the next young tech billionaire at 24.

This therefore implies that we need to take computer education in our schools (pry and Sec) more seriously, practical and make it fun to learn. This is the 21st Century, where we can barely complete a sentence without an element of technology in it. Certainly, technology will continue to be language of the future, such that anyone who cannot understand and use it’s tenets productively will be left out. Our kids need to be prepared for this wave (it’s already getting late) else they will only play second fiddle with their counterparts worldwide.

Enough of locking up the computer labs (if any, infact) for small reasons, in our schools. Tech cannot be taught in books. We need more practical classes. Hands-on training for the young in Public and Private Schools. Till this is effectively done, we’re only kidding.

This is why I often jump at opportunities to help others learn tech (especially recently with AIKI.ng). So, as I develop this curriculum, I feel happy for the young girls who will benefit from the training.

Our young techies shall grow 🙂

Technopreneur. Chief Hustler at 1Plify. PhD scholar [Technology entrepreneurship]

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