Coding Vision For Jamaican Children – One School At A Time
The brainchild of LaRonda Robinson, President & Chief Visionary Officer, Vision For Jamaica desires that every Jamaican high school graduate be proficient in at least one computer coding language. Coding is the reading/writing of a computer language. To support that vision, volunteers are recruited and trained to introduce computer coding to Jamaican primary school students using visual coding apps, software and websites. Volunteers do not have to be experienced to be coding coaches because they are appropriately prepared and provided with the necessary resources to impart knowledge to the enthusiastic children.
“Without a doubt, coding is a vital skill that is required for 21st century employment or entrepreneurship. The world is moving faster than the government’s ability to respond, therefore we can’t wait for the bureaucrats to give our students this knowledge. We are doing it now!’ the determined Ms. Robinson stated emphatically.
At today’s exchange rate, the minimum wage in Jamaica is currently less than US$50 per week. The average coder currently makes US$1,250 per week. Coders don’t have to migrate to find employment and make money.
According to Ms. Robinson, “When students learn to code they learn so much more: problem solving, sequential thinking, analytical thinking, critical thinking, teamwork, conflict resolution, resource allocation and persistence are all involved.”
Presently there are volunteers conducting coding sessions in three parishes; St Elizabeth, Manchester and Trelawny. Recently there was a meeting with the Tech Club president at the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) in Kingston about a project there. The aim to eventually have volunteer coding coaches in all fourteen parishes of Jamaica.
Specific challenges of Vision For Jamaica include: 1) fund raising to cover administrative and governmental charges, 2) recruiting volunteers who have their own tech devices and the time to commit to the coaching, 3) spreading the Vision For Jamaica message without paying to artificially boost FaceBook posts. Vision For Jamaica was incorporated in Florida in 2013. All officers and board members are dedicated visionary volunteers.
Developing the coding capability of the students is the main goal but providing basic infrastructure is crucial. Up to this point, funds have been raised to pay for school supplies at St Mary’s & Morningside Primary Schools in St. Elizabeth. Fans have been installed at Lewis Town Basic School and safety signs at Ballard’s Valley Primary. There has also been solicitation of corporate food donations for St. Mary’s Primary. All this is documented on the Vision For Jamaica Face Book page.
Deep in thought Ms. Robinson calmly shares, “Each day we ask God to put us in touch with the right people, who know the right people, who will talk to the right people to get our message out. This is changing lives as we open new doors of awareness for our youth. It is likely that each of your readers knows at least one person here in Jamaica who could be a potential Vision For Jamaica volunteer coding coach.”