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South Africa

By Joanna Goode

I recently had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to talk with teachers and computer science education faculty about the computing curriculum in South African and the United States. They are concerned with low numbers of high school students pursuing computer science, the lack of gender and racial diversity amongst computer science students, the lack of regular support for professional development, and the programming-centric nature of the national curriculum.

At a colloquium for IT teachers and national policymakers, a discussion arose about how to make computer science more relevant for 21st century students. Many of the teachers felt that a three-year sequence of programming languages did not tap into students’ interests, but the national policymakers argued that folks could adapt the standards in ways that made the curriculum more interesting and simultaneously maintain the required curricular standards.

It became clear that teachers needed more regular professional development and support to be able to engage in this innovative teaching, but apparently, the national curriculum designers and the national professional development designers work in different offices and do not collaborate. This was a frustrating realization for the teachers.

As we work on computer science policy at the local, state, and national level in the United States, it is more clear to me than ever that we must continue to couple curriculum reform and professional development opportunities to improve computer science education.

Joanna Goode
CSTA Equity Chair

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