By Phurpa Wangmo
One of the most cherished dreams of His Majesty the King, Bhutan is gradually taking baby steps towards becoming an IT-enabled society with the launch of CodeMonkey, an online platform, to make coding more fun and engaging for students.
On a historic note, the Royal society of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (RSSTEM) of His Majesty’s Secretariat this week stated, via a press release, that His Majesty The King has granted as Soelra to the children of Bhutan, access to online resources where students can learn coding.
The Solera was presented to the Ministry of Education by His Majesty’s Secretariat this week. Along with the presentation, a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between MoE, the department of Information and Technology (DITT), and the Royal Society for STEM (RSSTEM).
The Royal Society for STEM, which is an office under His Majesty’s Secretariat set up to strengthen Bhutan’s participation in scientific and technological innovation, received Royal Command in February this year to explore educational platforms to make coding more engaging and fun for students.
Code Monkey was jointly chosen over several leading platforms in consultation with the Ministry of Education and DITT. CodeMonkey is a popular online platform which offers paid coding lessons, taught through games.
According to the MOU, the Ministry of Education, which has received the solera on behalf of all the students of Bhutan, will implement the programme, with support from DITT and RSSTEM.
After the Royal Society for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (RSSTEM) received Royal Command in February this year to explore interesting educational platforms, CodeMonkey was jointly chosen over several leading platforms in consultation with the education ministry and department of information technology and telecom (DITT).
The project director of RSSTEM, Karma Wangdi said it will be formed as a part of the ICT curriculum for classes 7 to 8. And will be supplementary learning for other classes.
For primary schools and below, it will be rolled out where ever availability of computers and connectivity permits.
The director said CodeMonkey will be implemented in the second half of 2021 academic year based on the feasibility with respect to computer labs and connectivity in schools.
Karma Wangdi said from 2022, when devices and connectivity reach all schools, CodeMonkey will be implemented as part of the ICT curriculum from Classes PP – VIII.
According to him CodeMonkey also has good resources for teachers including well-developed lesson plans and teaching materials with solutions to challenges contained in the lessons.
Further, he said, RSSTEM would continue working closely with the education ministry and DITT to support the swift and successful implementation of the Royal Soelra.
“As the Ministry of Education implements Codemonkey in schools, the Department of IT and Telecom and RSSTEM will be there to render all possible support,” he said.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Jai Bir Rai, who spoke at the launch, said jobs in the future would require skills that can solve complex problems. And skills like critical and creative thinking have to be developed and nurtured in schools.
He said one of the strategies is through coding education right from lower primary classes if not even from pre-primary schools. The education ministry will roll out the online platform in schools starting next month.
The education ministry, DITT and the RSSTEM, an office under His Majesty’s Secretariat signed a memorandum of understanding for the swift implementation of the programme.
CodeMonkey makes coding anything but a task for learners by making it visually interesting. With different online challenges and activities, students will develop critical, creative and logical thinking.
Coding was introduced into the education curriculum last year to encourage students to keep up with the rapidly changing digital world.