Career & Education

Free coding classes for four inner-city schools

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Some 400 students from five inner-city primary schools in Kingston were introduced to computer coding as part of Computer Science Education Week 2017, December 4 to 8, and the global Hour of Code.

The participating schools were: Allman Town; North Street; Calabar, Clan Carthy and Holy Family primary schools.

The intervention consisted of two hour-long sessions at each school, with educational services company Halls of Learning and Seprod Foundation facilitating the proceedings.

Hour of Code is an international project introduced by, a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and under-represented minorities.'s vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry and algebra.

Coding is creating a set of instructions for the computer to follow by entering commands. Most games, apps and software are created by coding.

“We thank Seprod Foundation for selecting us to be a part of the Hour of Code programme. From my observation, the participating students were very engaged and interested in the activity. Working in pairs was also of benefit, as it helped with their social skills. The programme is a fun way to learn and follow simple instructions. I was also very impressed with the behaviour of my students,” said Latoya Nesbitt, acting principal of Allman Town Primary.

The coding lessons used the free app Swift Playgrounds, which uses Swift programming language.

One of the highlights of the 2017 Hour of Code project was the fact that four local celebrities were also taught how to code using Swift Playgrounds. They were Protoje, DJ Bambino, Ingrid Riley, and Emprezz Golding. Video footage of their participation was uploaded to Seprod's social media platforms, with Protoje's getting a nod from when it posted his video on its Twitter feed.

“Seprod Foundation has been promoting the Hour of Code for the past three years and it builds on our work of promoting innovative learning experiences to children in Jamaica,” said Melanie Subratie, director of Seprod Foundation.

“We support Jamaican Girls Coding and have provided teacher training in coding so far to 300 teachers in Jamaica. This means that a number of schools are well positioned to access Hour of Code material and provide their students with a great learning experience on their own. The Hour of Code activities provide students with good opportunities to learn and, hopefully, spike their interest in pursuing computer programming in the future,” she continued.

Over the past 30 years, Seprod Foundation has been providing scholarships, and more recently has begun to play a role in bringing innovative learning experiences to Jamaican children. Among the major local projects which have received support are: National Youth Orchestra, Jamaican Girls Coding, Debate Mate, Toy Inventors Workshop, Scratch Day, Hour of Code Coding Gallery, in addition to professional development opportunities for teachers.

“We believe that these investments in the human capital of Jamaica will not only inspire more careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, but equip our country for a more rewarding future,” Subratie said.




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