By Sibongile Khumalo for Fin24

Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says that Eskom has come up with a detailed winter plan that includes several possible scenarios.

Gordhan said the first scenario was if no load shedding was implemented.

“In this instance, we will ensure that unplanned outages or breakdowns are kept to less than 9500MW and that planned outages are within this range of 3000MW to 5000MW, so that we have some flexibility.

“In scenario 2, if outplanned outages go beyond 9500MW, a maximum of 26 days of Stage 1 load shedding (will take place) throughout this whole five month period,” he said.

There was also the expectation that the coal plants, Medupi and Kusile would soon be able to contribute in a more significant way, hopefully by the end of April.

The media was also told that power plants generally performed better during the cooler conditions in winter.

Gordhan along with Eskom board chairman Jabu Mabuza was briefing the media on the state of SA’s electricity supply.

This follows a previous briefing about two weeks ago.

At the time the country was in the midst of Stage 4 load shedding, which lasted for several days.

The power supply was so constrained that Eskom also implemented Stage 2 load shedding during the night.

Gordhan could not say then when load shedding would come to an end, but said they would know more within 10-14 days after the technical review team had had the opportunity to access the power plants.

Eskom has previously blamed ageing power plants and insufficient maintenance, among other things, for the spate of load shedding.

EU plans to speed limit all cars

By Gwyn Topham for The Guardian 

All new cars sold in the UK and Europe are to be fitted with devices to automatically stop drivers exceeding the speed limit under sweeping changes to vehicle safety rules that the EU has provisionally agreed.

Although Britain may no longer be part of the EU when the rules come into effect, the UK regulator, the Vehicle Certification Agency, has said it will mirror safety standards for vehicles in the UK.

The speed limiter is one of a range of safety features to be made mandatory from 2022, along with automated emergency braking, electronic data recorders and improved visibility built into lorries for drivers to see vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians around the vehicle.

Safety campaigners described the move as one of the biggest leaps forward in 50 years and said it could save 25,000 lives by 2037.

The package of measures needs to be ratified by the European parliament, which is likely by September.

The speed limiter device, called intelligent speed assistance (ISA), uses GPS data and sign recognition cameras to detect speed limits where the car is travelling, and then will sound a warning and automatically slow the vehicle down if it is exceeding the limit.

However, drivers will be able to override the device simply by pushing hard on the accelerator, reassuring some motoring groups that have argued that in certain situations – such as when trying to swiftly overtake a vehicle in front – speeding up could be safer.

The AA’s president, Edmund King, has said the case is not clear that ISAs will improve safety, although he welcomed plans to make automated emergency braking mandatory.

Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council, said: “There have only been a handful of moments in the last 50 years which could be described as big leaps forward for road safety in Europe. The mandatory introduction of the seatbelt was one, and the first EU minimum crash safety standards, agreed in 1998, was another.

“If last night’s agreement is given the formal green light, it will represent another of those moments, preventing 25,000 deaths within 15 years of coming into force.”

Volvo recently became the first manufacturer to announce it would limit the speed of all its new cars, albeit to 112mph – above the speed limit everywhere bar German autobahns.

Other measures agreed by the EU include making data recorders mandatory to help investigate vehicle crashes and assist research into increased safety. Another feature already standard in many new cars, a lane departure warning system, will become obligatory.

The road safety charity Brake called it a “landmark day”. Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “These lifesaving measures come at a vital time, with road safety in a concerning period of stagnation with more than 70 people still being killed or seriously injured on British roads every day. The government must commit to adopting these lifesaving regulations, no matter what happens with Brexit.”

The UK has one of the lowest rates of road deaths among European nations, although the number of accidents has plateaued this decade, after a long trend of improving safety. In 2017, 322 people died on British roads when the vehicle was either exceeding the speed limit or judged to be travelling too fast for the conditions.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We continuously work with partners across the globe to improve the safety standards of all vehicles. These interventions are expected to deliver a step-change in road safety across Europe, including the UK.”

Standard Bank has partnered with Founders Factory Africa to grow businesses across Africa.

Corporates can play a more significant role in working with small businesses to stimulate economic growth and job creation across the continent.

Nadia Oshry is a Senior Manager at Standard Bank’s Moonshots division which looks to launch new disruptive financial services businesses into the African market

Oshry said, “Founders Factory is a unique, corporate-backed incubator and accelerator model that was launched in 2016. In the UK, corporates such as L’Oreal, EasyJet, Marks & Spencer and Aviva have signed on and already benefitted from this model. Together, they have grown 96 start-ups across 20 countries and raised over GBP 117mil for the portfolio”.

“Standard Bank with Founders Factory Africa will be launching and scaling 140 disruptive tech-enabled businesses across the continent within the next five years. It will also work towards enhancing the formal start-up culture in key African cities,” adds Oshry.

This development is in stark contrast to the current environment in which it is more common for Fintech start-ups and ‘Big Tech’ Corporates to act as competitors in the marketplace. In an environment where job creation is critical, bigger companies often trade off increased jobs with enhanced efficiency. Examples include Uber that has traditionally provided an alternate model for employing drivers, but is now focused on creating self-driving cars. Amazon is developing drone delivery to replace traditional courier models.

“Founders Factory is but one example of a new way of working that aligns incentives between Corporates and start-ups. With a change in mindset and through innovative new business models, large Corporates can contribute substantially to growing the small businesses in our continent and changing our economic landscape,” Oshry said.

As an investor, Standard Bank has a vested interest in leveraging its African footprint across 22 countries and unique assets to help the businesses scale.

“Start-ups dream of the distribution capabilities and scale of corporates; while corporates wish that they had the agility of startups. It is when these players stop competing and form strategic alliances that the real magic happens,” concludes Oshry.

By Tom McKay for Gizmodo 

Facebook has been prompting some users registering for the first time to hand over the passwords to their email accounts, the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday—a practice that blares right past questionable and into “beyond sketchy” territory, security consultant Jake Williams told the Beast.

A Twitter account using the handle @originalesushi first posted an image of the screen several days ago, in which new users are told they can confirm their third-party email addresses “automatically” by giving Facebook their login credentials. The Beast wrote that the prompt appeared to trigger under circumstances where Facebook might think a sign-up attempt is “suspicious,” and confirmed it on their end by “using a disposable webmail address and connecting through a VPN in Romania.”

It is never, ever advisable for a user to give out their email password to anyone, except possibly to a 100 percent verified account administrator when no other option exists (which there should be). Email accounts tend to be primary gateways into the rest of the web, because a valid one is usually necessary to register accounts on everything from banks and financial institutions to social media accounts and porn sites. They obviously also contain copies of every un-deleted message ever sent to or from that address, as well as additional information like contact lists. It is for this reason that email password requests are one of the most obvious hallmarks of a phishing scam.

“That’s beyond sketchy,” Williams told the Beast. “They should not be taking your password or handling your password in the background. If that’s what’s required to sign up with Facebook, you’re better off not being on Facebook.”

“This is basically indistinguishable to a phishing attack,” Electronic Frontier Foundation security researcher Bennett Cyphers told Business Insider. “This is bad on so many levels. It’s an absurd overreach by Facebook and a sleazy attempt to trick people to upload data about their contacts to Facebook as the price of signing up … No company should ever be asking people for credentials like this, and you shouldn’t trust anyone that does.”

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Gizmodo that this screen appears for some users signing up for the first time, though the company wrote, “These passwords are not stored by Facebook.” It additionally characterized the number of users it asks for email passwords as “very small.” Those presented with the screen were signing up on desktop while using email addresses that did not support OAuth—an open standard for allowing third parties authenticated access to assets (such as for the purpose of verifying identities) without sharing login credentials. OAuth is typically a standard feature of major email providers.

Facebook noted in the statement that those users presented with this screen could opt out of sharing passwords and use another verification method such as email or phone. The company also said it would be ending the practice of asking for email passwords.

“People can always choose instead to confirm their account with a code sent to their phone or a link sent to their email,” the spokesperson wrote. “That said, we understand the password verification option isn’t the best way to go about this, so we are going to stop offering it.”

However, those other options could only be reached by clicking the “Need help?” button seen in the above screenshot, which is not an obvious manner of communicating that there are other options.

Business Insider found that signing up for an account using this method additionally prompts users that Facebook is “importing contacts” without asking for permission, though it was not “immediately clear if this tool actually imports these contacts”:

Business Insider has also found that if a new user chooses to enter their e-mail account password into Facebook, a pop-up appears saying that Facebook is “importing contacts” — despite not asking the user for permission to do so. It is not immediately clear if this tool actually imports these contacts, as it apparently didn’t pull in contact list entries we made for the purposes of testing, though these contacts were only minutes-old.

Reached over phone, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that handing over email login credentials has been “offered for years” and that the “The intent of this option was simply to confirm the account.” The spokesperson said they did not know whether Facebook had accessed any data in accounts it obtained passwords to—such as contact lists, which it uses to fuel features like its People You May Know system—but would follow up with an answer. (We’ll update this article if we hear back.)

While Facebook said that it did not store the passwords, it has also used ostensible security features such as two-factor authentication as a pretext to spam users’ phones with text messages and wrangle up phone numbers for targeted advertising. Facebook has also in the past issued contradictory statements about what kind of data it collects (such as call data and app usage on its Portal video phones), launched pseudo-VPN apps that vacuumed up user data, and seemingly obfuscated how users could control whether it obtains call and text data. Late last month, news leaked it stored hundreds of millions of users’ passwords in plaintext.

Sanral suspends e-toll debt collection

Source: News24

The South African National Roads Agency has announced that it is suspending the process of pursuing e-toll debt.

This after Sanral’s board passed an urgent resolution on the matter on Tuesday.

“It resolved that given the initiative led by President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the e-tolls payment impasse, Sanral will, with immediate effect, suspend the process of pursuing e-toll debt. This includes historic debt and summonses applied for from 2015. No new summonses will be applied for,” Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Sanral says the decision will be constantly monitored by the board and reviewed according to prevailing circumstances.

Netwerk24 had reported earlier this month that only 26 motorists had received default judgments so far for not paying their e-toll bills.

Mona told the News24 sister site that motorists owe Sanral more than R10.9-billion in unpaid e-toll money.

Telkom is killing itself

Source: MyBroadband

Telkom is facing a challenging future, with a growing number of South Africans vowing to never deal with the company again due to its poor customer service.

MyBroadband receives daily complaints from Telkom subscribers who are unable to cancel their services due to the company’s poor systems.

Many former Telkom subscribers also complain about being billed despite having cancelled their services months ago, and if they stop paying they run the risk of being blacklisted.

“We tried for 3 months to cancel our ADSL service with Telkom without success. We have never had such a poor experience with any service provider,” MyBroadband was told by a Telkom DSL subscriber.

“Telkom is forcing people selfishly to remain indebted to them just because you once had a service with them. They have zero care for customers,” another client said on HelloPeter.

New system launched, but without success
In January, Telkom said it was working to improve the accessibility of its support mechanisms to customers.

This included a feature which allows customers previously unable to cancel their accounts to process the matter online.

Telkom also acknowledged that errors in the migration of its cancellation system resulted in users being incorrectly blacklisted, and promised to improve in this area.

Despite these interventions, customers still struggle with this problem and in some areas the company’s support became worse.

MyBroadband continues to receive complaints about cancellation problems, with many people reporting that Telkom’s helpdesk and support platform is often down.

This means that customers can not cancel their services and are left frustrated by the company’s poor support.

The effect on Telkom’s numbers
While making it difficult for customers to cancel their service may result in short-term financial gains, the long-term damage to Telkom is devastating.

The company is already losing fixed-line subscribers at a record rate and its poor reputation means it is unlikely to turn the tide.

Telkom now has 2,566,000 fixed-line subscribers, down from 2,840,000 a year ago. This is a year-on-year decline of 274,000 lines.

Telkom is also losing fixed-broadband subscribers despite its continued investment in a fibre rollout.

Telkom is blaming competition from mobile services, copper theft, and tough economic conditions for this decline – but there is more to it.

Even if people can get access to Telkom’s fixed-broadband services, they prefer to use other companies because of Telkom’s poor reputation.

To gain South Africans’ trust again will be very difficult for the company, which does not bode well for its future prospects.

The graph below shows Telkom’s fixed-line subscriber decline over the last two decades, illustrating the effect of its poor reputation.

You can now buy MTN data via Whatsapp

Source: Business Insider SA

Following the example of Absa, MTN launched a WhatsApp service on Tuesday. You can now buy MTN data via WhatsApp.

The announcement came during a turbulent day for the company, which at one stage saw its share price down 7%.
In a dramatic day for MTN for other reasons, the company launched a new WhatsApp service on Tuesday to allow customers to interact with it via the popular text-messaging platform.

MTN’s share price suffered a sharp drop in the morning, after the Nigerian government urged a Lagos court to proceed with a penalty of $2 billion (R29 billion) against MTN. The government first instituted the penalty last year, accusing MTN of evading taxes. MTN’s share price has lost almost a fifth of its value in response.

The Whatsapp-based MTN Chat service will eventually also allow customers to speak to customer support and upgrade their packages. Customers will also get low-balance alerts via WhatsApp.

MTN follows Absa, which recently introduced WhatsApp-based “chat banking”.

Though MTN reportedly claimed a “world first” in allowing customers to buy airtime via WhatsApp, Absa customers can already do just that via its service.

WhatsApp remains by far the most popular messenger app in South Africa; according to a recent study, 49% of adult South Africans use WhatsApp – compared to Facebook Messenger’s 32%.

As with the Absa service, MTN Chat has been enabled by South African-born company Clickatell, which was founded in Cape Town in 2000 to help businesses communicate via SMS.

It has since partnered with WhatsApp, and now has a head office in Silicon Valley, with 15 000 clients around the world, including Visa, IBM and McKinsey. Clickatell may even consider listing in the US this year.

Apple unveils credit card plans

By Nick Statt for The Verge

Among the most tangible announcements at Apple’s services event yesterday was also its most interesting: a credit card, aptly called the Apple Card, with both a physical and digital version that gives you up to 3 percent cash back. The product is, on the surface, a way for Apple to sell its brand on another everyday object you likely already own. But beneath the veneer of a titanium credit card with the Apple logo on it, the company is clearly charting out its post-iPhone future, one in which services reign supreme, by following a formula we’ve never quite seen it attempt before.

In this case, Apple has decided that it needs a traditional product, even one with the dubious moral baggage of a credit card, to promote Apple Pay. While the digital wallet and payment platform is growing fast, it’s still used by less than half of all global iPhone owners (and even less in the US). So just as Apple sees competing with Netflix and large cable companies as part of its future by creating its own TV shows and paying top dollar for Hollywood talent, the company no longer sees upending the status quo in payments as a viable path forward for Apple Pay.

“I think the strange optic here is that credit cards are not necessarily innovation in payments, even with better rates and loyalty,” says Rivka Gewirtz Little, a global research director at analyst firm IDC who specializes in payments. “So, to see a big tech firm, which hangs its hat on innovation, go such a traditional route – that’s what I think is a bit odd here. I’d like to see Apple get more innovative in transforming the way we pay.”

For years, as the iPhone has become ubiquitous and sales have started to slow, Apple has tried to emulate the paradigm-shifting success of the App Store and iTunes before it by barreling its way into TV and film, mobile payments, and news. But time and again over the last half-decade or so, Apple has run into the hard economic and logistic reality of trying to change industries that are far less malleable than mobile software and music.

And while Apple Pay may be a bold vision of the future, it’ll likely be years before contactless digital payments become truly mainstream in the US. In the meantime, Apple wants to sell you the benign and the boring — a credit card, a cable package, a magazine subscription — in hopes it can make its software and services as intrinsic a part of everyday life as its smartphone. Changing industries from the ground up is no longer Apple’s playbook, especially as it plays catch-up to companies like Netflix and Spotify.

Apple’s strategy mirrors that of Amazon. The e-commerce giant started out selling genuinely new and best-in-class products like the Kindle and then the AI-powered Echo speaker. But Amazon has since used the consumer goodwill it garnered and the power it wields over its digital storefront to sell you everything from microwaves and wall clocks to white label clothing brands, home supplies, and AmazonBasics-branded AA batteries.

Apple is doing the same, using the iPhone as the ultimate gateway to transform every iOS and Mac user into a series of multiple recurring revenue streams from products made first and in some cases made better by other companies, be it Apple Music, Apple News, iCloud, or the new TV app. Apple is stopping short of making its own version of Prime, in which all of these services could be bundled together, but the company appears to be taking its cues from Amazon’s subscription approach to further lock iPhone owners into a broader ecosystem.

With the Apple Card, the company is going one step further and trying to capture not just what you consume, but also the financial means you use to do so. Apple isn’t reinventing the wheel — the card, as reported by CNET, doesn’t have contactless capabilities like newer cards from competing banks, so you’ll need to slide it or input the chip into a reader to use it every time. Instead, Apple is giving users a no-frills credit card that’s a cleverly disguised way to juice Apple Pay adoption and usage.

Unlike the subscription services it plans to sell, the Apple Card comes with no annual fee, no late lees, and an interest rate supposedly lower than the industry average. On top of that, it has a pretty straightforward rewards program that incentivizes consumers to use Apple Pay to buy Apple products, for the most cash back at 3 percent thanks likely to the fact that Apple no longer has to hand over as high a processing fee as it does with a third-party card. If you have to use the physical Mastercard-branded card, you’ll get 1 percent back. (Granted, when it launches, the Apple Card will be one of the only cards on the market without a sign-up bonus, the primary incentivizing mechanism banks use to get people to open new lines of credit.)

To get customers to actually sign up, Apple is leaning heavily on its privacy-first approach. Effectively, Apple wants to be the only tech company you actually trust. Onstage yesterday, CEO Tim Cook said the card will not collect data on your transactions, and Apple will not let its partner bank, Goldman Sachs, sell any data to third parties. But of course that begs the question: how does it make money, and without those usual stipulations, is Apple not simply banking on users falling into debt and pocketing the insurance money they’re forced to pay for years to come?

The goal may not be to turn a profit, at least not on the service itself. It all comes back to Apple Pay. The reason Apple made a credit card in the first place is to spur adoption of Apple Pay, and to create a digital wallet that can be used not just in the real world, but also inside an iOS ecosystem that is increasingly being peppered with new, for-pay services.

“Mobile wallets are still a small section of the market, so it’s understandable there needs to be a big push if your aim is more adoption,” says Rasha Katabi, CEO and co-founder of credit card and digital payments startup Brim Financial. “As the adoption of e-commerce increases, and we’ve seen that at an exponential rate over the past few years, the relevance of having a physical card or lack thereof will track really closely to the adoption and migration from physical shopping to fully online shopping.”

The only online shopping Apple truly cares about happens within its ecosystem: in-app subscriptions for its new services, microtransactions in mobile games like Fortnite, Venmo-style peer-to-peer payments with Apple Cash, and purchasing of Apple hardware from within the Apple Store mobile app. All of this qualifies for the 3 percent cash back bonus, Apple confirmed to The Verge. And that arrangement sheds an interesting light on the entire Apple Card approach.

Through its incentives, Apple is creating a system where you’ll shop in the real world at Apple Pay partners for an extra cash back bonus, switch your App Store credit card to an Apple one with an even better bonus, and rely only on the physical card for when you absolutely have to. And all of it is underpinned by Apple’s privacy pledge and relatively solid security track record, as well as the luxury status symbol provided by an Apple-branded piece of titanium, with its number-less design that non-coincidentally makes it easy to gloat about on social media.

How loadshedding affects your security

By Ntwaagae Seleka for News24

Home owners and businesses have been urged to test their security systems as a matter of urgency and to pay particular attention to the battery back-up systems during load shedding periods.

“Many people are under the incorrect assumption that their home alarm system is deactivated when the power supply is interrupted. However, if you have a stable and correctly programmed system coupled with a battery that is in good condition, it will continue to protect the premises during a power outage – regardless if the outage is because of load shedding or not,” said Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.

The only time it may not function correctly is if there is a technical issue, or the battery power is low.

“Most modern alarm systems have a back-up battery pack that activates automatically when there is a power failure. There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to ensure security is not compromised during any power cuts.

“Some of these include ensuring that the alarm system has an adequate battery supply, that all automated gates and doors are secured and lastly to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your security provider or the South African Police Service,” said Hattingh.

With the added inconvenience of the lights going out at night due to power cuts, candles and touch-lights are handy alternatives.

Home owners are also advised that it is important that their alarm systems have adequate battery supply and that batteries should be checked regularly. Alarms should be checked during extended power outages to keep systems running.

Power cuts can affect fire systems and fire control systems, so these also need to be checked regularly. The more frequent use of gas and candles can increase the risk of fire and home fire extinguishers should be on hand.

People are urged to remain vigilant during power cuts and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity and report this to their security company or the police immediately.

Hattingh said home and business owners should consider installing Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, which is integrated into the alarm system’s wiring and automatically switches on for a maximum of 15 minutes when there is a power outage.

“If there is an additional battery pack, the small, non-intrusive LED lights can stay on for the duration of the power outage – or a maximum of 40 hours – without draining the primary alarm battery. Because of load shedding, there might also be a higher than usual number of alarm activation signals received by security companies and their monitoring centres.

“This could lead to a delay in monitoring centre agents making contact with customers. You can assist by manually cancelling any potential false alarms caused by load shedding, and thus help call centre agents in prioritising the calls needing urgent attention,” said Hattingh.

 

By Kerushun Pillay for The Witness

Once a specialist field for nerds, the world of coding has today become pretty much a norm in the career space — so much so that even basic administrative jobs require people to know basic coding.

And the trend is being felt strongly: several online platforms, including universities, are on offer for people to get quick crash courses in coding, in addition to a wealth of online resources and free coding software for anyone interested.

There are a few non-profit organisations teaching coding and advanced IT to impoverished schools, with other local organisations strongly advocating for coding to be taught to the youth.

The looming fourth industrial revolution — which is likely to kill the traditional “blue collar” line of work — has meant advanced IT skills is slowly becoming no longer just advantageous, but more of a requirement. And those who’ve mastered it have seen a whole new world open up, from new employment and freelance opportunities, to suddenly being sought-after in their fields.

A pupil entering Grade 1 this year will graduate in 2031 if they do a one-year post matric qualification, when the world — and more importantly, the job market — is vastly different.

Coders make up a huge portion of the increasingly popular “gig economy” — where freelancers are hooked up with companies.

Even a traditionally pen and paper industry like journalism is slowly beginning to value basic coding skills, with more international newsrooms listing knowledge of basic HTML coding as a requirement.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is making plans to implement coding into the school curricula for Grade R to Grade 9 starting from next year.

The Department of Basic Education is looking at introducing coding schools.

The DBE has developed a “framework of skills for a changing world” and provincial departments are already in the process of implementing them.

The DBE said the Council of Education Ministers had last year approved the implementation of a Coding and Robotics curriculum to begin during foundation phase.

“Teachers and learners will be able to respond to emerging technologies, including the Internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence,” the department said.

The DBE has partnered with Unisa­, which has made 24 IT labs available to train some 72 000 teachers in coding.

Unisa and the University of the North West are both working on developing the education framework for coding, the DBE said.

Those universities are also supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to customise teaching and learning. That platform will be available in all 11 languages.

“There are plans in place to train at least three teachers in each of the 16 000 primary schools to teach coding.

“The implementation of Coding in the system will be preceded by a pilot project in 50 schools in five provinces during 2019, to ready the system and to ensure that the schools are prepared for full implementation post 2020,” said the DBE.

What is coding?
Coding makes it possible to create computer software, applications and websites. These are made using a specific coding language.

For example, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are used to construct websites, where HTML sets out the bare bones of a website, CSS is the design component which dictates colours and fonts, and JavaScript is the engine behind the website’s functionality.

So how does coding help children?

The “four C’s of coding” enable pupils to make sense of the digital world and develop crucial skills for the future job market.

1. Confidence

It encourages pupils to maintain a “can-do” attitude towards solving difficult problems. One of the coding concepts taught is debugging, where a coder has to identify and fix a bug. This process takes perseverance, and once it’s solved there is a sense of achievement and emboldened confidence in their coding abilities.

2. Creativity

Coding encourages experimentation, making mistakes, exploring ideas and questioning assumptions. In doing so, pupils develop the mindset for creative thinking. Instead of being passive technology users, they become active inventors and innovators.

3. Collaboration

Working in teams is an essential life skill. Coding may be seen as an independent task, but it calls for collaboration and group work, since many projects or apps are designed by teams. Coding projects also involve liaising with and presenting ideas to clients.

4. Computational thinking

By starting young, children will be better prepared to succeed and thrive in the 21st century. Computational thinking provides children with a new way of thinking that can be used to solve a variety of problems.

Here are five coding languages you should look at if you’re interested in coding. These will allow you to create a fully responsive website.

1. HTML — Think of a website as a human body, with HTML — or Hypertext Markup Language — being the skeletal structure. HTML is the most basic level of a website where the coder inputs all the components in plain text.

2. CSS — If HTML is the skeleton, then CSS is the clothing. CSS — or Cascading Style Sheet — allows the coder to input colours and fonts and rearrange components — also known as elements — and design the website as required.

3. JavaScript — Think of JavaScript as the organs: it isn’t seen, but is the engine that keeps the website ticking. JavaScript is used to create more sophisticated parts to a website. Ever see a website where photos or words come out of nowhere to invade the screen? That’s the work of JavaScirpt.

4. JQuery — JQuery is a library of JavaScript functions, making it easier for the coder to code certain functions.

5. PhP — or Hypertext Processor — is a server side language which allows the coder to include a server on the website. A server is used for, among other things, storing usernames and passwords. Facebook, for example, relies on PhP to store users’ information.

How do I even start?

You can learn a number of coding languages right now and all you need is an internet connection. Here’s how:

1. Use online tutorials — free guides, like W3Schools for example, are available to help you learn programming languages and also have solutions to commonly experienced coding problems.

2. YouTube — There are several “code along” videos to get you into the groove of coding. There are also channels offering step-by-step tutorials for every language.

3. Try it out — You learn by doing, and coding is no different. Let’s say you want to design websites: take a website you like which has a simple design and try to code it yourself. Online resources like GitHub­ also offer countless examples for you to test out.

4. Google it — Encountering stumbling blocks is inevitable but rest assured as dozens of people have had the same problem and have posted a solution.

What the analysts say

Analysis felt the move to adopt coding in schools was a positive one, but say implementation could be a challenge.

Dr Anthea Cereseto, the national CEO of the Governing Body Foundation, said while the foundation had not yet adopted a standpoint on the issue, the country could not risk being “left behind” while technology advances.

“We will advise schools to keep up with modern advances and coding is part of the future. The problem is with funding, and while we can’t neglect coding, attention must also be given to other shortfalls,” she said.

Cereseto said the department needed to weigh covering “essentials”, like early childhood development, while implementing coding: “There is a finite budget and the department has to prioritise properly. Recently, department expenditure has been declining.”

She added: “It should also be broadly rolled out and can’t only be introduced in elite pockets. Right now only the elite can get [coding] training if they pay for it, and some schools offer it. But it needs to be rolled out in schools or else the equity gap will be increased.”

Cereseto said training teachers would be another challenge: “Learning coding is not an overnight thing. They need to be trained properly and then we need the resources because something like coding can’t just be theoretical.”

Education analyst Professor Labby Ramrathan­ said: “It’s a big step, and introducing coding is more useful than introducing more languages. It would allow the curriculum to align itself with education for relevance.”

He said the DBE’s pilot roll-out will provide a sense of what is needed for proper implementation.

Tech guru Arthur Goldstuck said learning coding was like learning another language, as it will allow young people to understand the advancing world.

“It is wonderful to expose children to it and they will find a whole new world open up, but teachers generally don’t learn new concepts and we can’t start rolling it out until that happens.

“Resources are another challenge, but if money is taken from places where there is misspending and put in education there should be no problem,” Goldstruck said.

He added that schools should also look at teaching entrepreneurial skills, which go hand-in-hand with freelance coding and collaborating with other people.

It’s all the rage

Pupils are enthusiastic about coding, and it allows them to improve their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

This is according to advocates for taking coding to the youth who run workshops at schools and offer coding training.

Stefan Louw, the co-founder of the CodeSpace Foundation, said learning how to code made technology more meaningful to pupils, and that it allowed pupils to think creatively to solve problems.

The foundation tasks pupils with project-based work in order to build their skills.

“When you’re learning, you’re making mental models and building things up in your mind, and when you’re applying that knowledge, you’re building something in your mind — that’s when you’re really learning effectively.

“The theory suggests that it’s by working through problems that are part of a larger project that students are able to ‘build’ the learning that will stick with them to be applied to future problems,” he said.

He added that his foundation will soon introduce robotics to schools.

“The job market is already experiencing a massive shift as automation becomes a reality: low-skill or unskilled labour is increasingly automated, but it’s definitely not all bad news.

“There’s a considerable opportunity for employment in this field, and a tech education can allow South Africa to leapfrog into a position of frontrunner in the world of innovation, if we’re able to provide tech education that will allow us to meet the worldwide demand for skilled, talented programmers.”

He said the current school system was “outdated” and there was now the opportunity to integrate IT to the point where it enhances learning across classes.

CodeJIKA, a non-profit which takes coding to schools, echoed Louw, saying that young people would not understand the demands of the new job market without being exposed to coding at an early age.

According to CodeJIKA, who have established pupil-run coding clubs in high schools, contrary to the perception that advanced computer skills are only valuable in IT professions, over 70% of computing jobs are outside that industry.

The organisation believes a knowledge of computer science is increasingly critical in research, finance and manufacturing.

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