SmartLabs for coding and developing digital skills in preuniversity education system


Photos from: Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare (link)

Digitalization is increasingly defining the way we live, how we take actions and interact with one another. No current or future generation can afford to simply become passive consumers of the digital content. To the contrary, it is crucial to equip people, but especially children, with the necessary skills to be comfortable in the virtual space surrounding them and to familiarize them with the digital and technological processes.

The main instrument to create and manipulate digital content is coding, and that is done through programming languages. “Fluency” in these languages is not only an asset for the labor market but it also has all-round benefits for children’s perspective of modern life and positive features in their general behavior. Since coding is widely used for content creation, it becomes an important instrument for the users to actively express and cultivate their creativity.

In this context, Open Society Foundation for Albania (OSFA) is supporting the Albanian Government in their initiative to introduce coding as a part of the curricula for elementary school, and in their effort to increase digital competencies for children and young people in general. The project in its initial phase will be implemented in 100 schools for the academic year 2022-2023. It will also include coding as separate subject in the first grades, as part of the Information and Communication Technology curricula, update current curricula for the rest of school grades along with the teaching practices for the ICT subject, and align them with the most contemporary methods for pre-university education.

OSFA will contribute a 500,000 USD fund for the construction and equipment of the new smart labs with the necessary digital tools, according to the technical specifications already defined by the competent partner institutions. These labs will create the proper conditions for developing skills regarding coding and general knowledge about digital space.

The support for the Ministry of State for Youth and Children is coordinated with the ongoing support from the Albanian-American Development Fund (AADF). They are an integral part of  this partnership by building the smart labs, but also by reviewing the current curricula, providing expertise for the training of ICT teachers, and creating an online platform that will support them in teaching the subject for grades I to III.

The first phase of the project will impact 100 schools throughout the country, distributed equally between urban and rural areas, and will equip the smart labs with high-tech products, such as interactive whiteboards, modern laptops, and programmable minicomputers. Approximately 7,500 children will directly benefit from the new smart labs complemented with the updated curricula of ICT, while around 65,000 other children in the elementary school will have access to the labs.

The long-term aim of this program is the transformation of the ICT teaching system in the preuniversity education from I-XII grades, through updating the curricula, training the teachers, and equipping the schools with the necessary infrastructure to carry out the ICT classes through a fast-paced expansion of this program in all the schools of the preuniversity education in Albania. Furthermore, the aim of the program is to build and equip the smart labs in over every school in the country, update all curricula and start the implementation as soon as possible.

To learn more about the project please contact us at info@osfa.al.