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UG in major initiative to reform teaching-learning of computer science in schools

University of Guyana Lecturer in Computer Science, Lenandlar Singh.

The University of Guyana’s Department of Computer Science is laying the groundwork to shift away from teaching Information Technology to the teaching of computing from the primary school level with the aim of fostering innovation and creativity,  a co-promoter of a week of activities said.

“Beyond Word and Excel, let’s make something, let’s learn some coding, let’s build something,” UG Lecturer in Computer Science, Lenandlar Singh said of the week of activities Under the theme “Advancing Computing Education in Guyana”.

Eventually, he hopes that Guyana would be able to influence the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to revise its syllabus. “If we make noise at the right level, we can influence CXC,” he said.

Dr. Sue Sentance of King’s College in Britain is expected in Guyana to facilitate a number of sessions with teachers, students and members of the public during March 18- 24 in Georgetown and Berbice. The teacher-educator and Doctor in Computer Science would be holding interactive sessions with teachers in Berbice at the John’s Campus of the University of Guyana on Tuesday, March 20 and on Wednesday 21 at UG’s Turkeyen Campus for teachers around Georgetown, East Coast Demerara, Cyril Potter College of Education and possibly a few from Lethem.

Senior Lecturer in Computer Science Education, Dr. Sue Sentance.

On Thursday, there would be a half-day session at Bishops High School and another on Friday for students at Queen’s College.

A public lecture is scheduled for next Thursday from 6 PM to 8PM at the Theatre Guild, Parade Street, Kingston and a public forum on “Gender in Computing”  on Friday at 3 PM to 5 PM at UG’s Education Lecture Theatre. “There is a major gender issue,” the UG lecturer said, adding that there are issues related to security, harassment and lack of opportunities.

Singh emphasised the importance of training teachers modern techniques in computer education delivery from the primary level to help foster innovation among young people for a growth industry. “If you train your teachers well, we can build the Information society that we want. We need to change our curriculum to make it more relevant to be the creators of things rather than just being the users of things,” he added.

Singh said the Ministry of Public Telecommunications/ National Frequency Management Unit, Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company and the United Kingdom-based Farnell company would be teaming up to make the initiative a success.

The BBC Microbit whose every element of the device is completely customisable as a result of its connectivity; allowing the user to bring their digital, app and game ideas to life with the help of easy-to-use software, available to download for free from a dedicated website, www.microbit.co.uk.

The UG Lecturer said Farnell has donated to the Guyana initiative 20 BBC Microbits– a pocket sized computing device that offers its young users a level of programming accessibility- and plans are on stream to acquire more. The devices would be used to demonstrate programming skills to teachers and students.

The long-term goals include revamping the school’s curriculum and the teaching of computer science firstly in the primary school instead of in secondary school.

Singh assured that Guyana is increasingly having the required Internet access and hardware such as easier access to computers at home, school laboratories and Information Communication Technology (ICT) hubs to help revolutionise the teaching-learning of computer education.