One of the country’s top information technology expert, Joey Gurango of the Philippine Programmers Rating, was in town this week to explore partnerships with local institutions, including information and communications technology (ICT) schools and the Department of Education, to push for a broader awareness among the Palaweno youth on the importance and significance of programming or coding as a path for higher education.

As reported by Palawan News, they are exploring to roll out a course designed for senior high school students that will expose them properly to the field of information technology and computer programming, and in the end hopefully, encourage more students going to college to take up related courses.

The rationale for such an initiative, according to Mr. Gurango, is that the Philippines is actually lagging behind its neighboring countries in having enough programmers to help build the engines of growth in many aspects of development, particularly those that require information technology systems.

“Enrollment in ICT and computer sciences has been declining. And the best way to address this is to get high school students interested,” Mr. Gurango says.

Mr. Gurango is exploring ways to get the Department of Education to incorporate their approach to teaching information technology and basic coding in high school. He notes with concern that even while the country’s computer schools produce an average of 25,000 computer science graduates every year, “most of them cannot code.”

“We don’t have enough people who can code in this country,” he says.

Pioneering such an undertaking in Palawan will be a significant milestone, as even the city of Puerto Princesa has the vision to shore up its ICT potentials for investors including the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

In our fast-changing technical world, our ability to catch up with everybody else arguably hinges on the capacity of our information and technology sector, which most experts agree is too far undeveloped. It manifests in several ways, including the lack or many cases absence of capable teachers to teach coding.

Countries like India, Vietnam and even Singapore whose small land area can literally fit inside Palawan, have a much bigger and more robust ICT sector.  This simply means they are way ahead in technology development.

The demand for ICT programmers and coders is expected to increase over the years, as technological needs broaden. A proper appreciation of this reality is what is needed by our policy and development planners. Interventions such as what the Philippine Programmers’ Rating is trying to do is an important small step in the right direction.