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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Coding: the language of the future arrives today

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's coding initiative is designed to equip a million young Arabs with the skills of tomorrow

A million young people could soon be trained in computer coding. Anna Nielsen / The National
A million young people could soon be trained in computer coding. Anna Nielsen / The National

Described as the language of the future, coding has vaulted into the mainstream. Having already found its way into classrooms around the world via taster courses and curriculum changes, it is now commonplace for primary school children to start coding – which is best described as the business of writing and creating software, apps and websites – from the age of five. But how can the gap be plugged among those who may have missed out and how can those who have an interest in coding consolidate their skills?

On Tuesday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled an online programme designed to help a million young Arabs across the region become competent in computer coding. Announcing the initiative, he said the programme’s goal is to teach “young Arabs to prepare them now for the requirements needed to excel in the future.” The scheme offers online certification for those who complete the course, as well as scholarships and prizes to outstanding students.

But it is its recognition of the skills young people will need to excel in the workplace of tomorrow, the pan-Arab nature of the offering and its availability to a huge body of students that make the initiative stand out.

Also innovative, albeit on a far more local level, is the introduction of Business and Technology Education Council Level 3 diploma at one of Abu Dhabi’s schools. The two-year programme is an alternative to A-levels and is focused on practical learning in broader disciplines, such as engineering and sports science.

None of us can predict what the workplace of tomorrow will look like, but there is an increasing awareness that the traditional core school subjects are only a part of the fabric. To compete and excel, young people will need a range of skills, such as coding or the foundations provided by Btec courses.