Software coding initiative reaches 19,000 in schools

Software coding initiative reaches 19,000 in schools
Wellington Primary pupils breaking out in laughter as a robot dances to Korean pop star Psy’s hit song Gangnam Style in the Lab on Wheels, a retrofitted bus filled with computers and robotics. The IDA aims to reach more than 70,000 schoolgoers through the Code@SG Movement by April next year.

SINGAPORE - A national initiative to spark interest in software coding has reached more than 19,000 students from primary to tertiary institutions.

The Code@SG Movement launched last April aims to make coding something most people can do and create a base of technology professionals.

Organised by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), it offers enrichment classes and courses for infocommunications clubs, and has also set up a National Infocomm Competition.

At Wellington Primary School, for instance, about 250 Primary 5 pupils took part in classes where they learnt how to programme robots and develop their own games.

About 2,700 students from 23 schools have taken part in this Code for Fun programme.

Speaking at Wellington Primary yesterday, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said the movement aims to build the skill set needed for Singapore's transition to a smart nation, where coding will soon become a necessity.

"The movement is a way to demystify information and communications technology, so that our children will then have an interest to pursue a career in it," he said.

"We can then build up the manpower that we need badly to transition into a smart nation."

Such expertise will be required in the future, where technology will make life better and more convenient for everyone.

The IDA aims to reach more than 70,000 schoolgoers through the movement by April next year.

Another feature of the movement, Lab on Wheels, a retrofitted bus filled with computers and robotics, has visited eight primary schools so far, with more than 2,000 pupils participating in activities such as game programming and 3D printing.

Eugene Chong, 12, from Wellington Primary School, said the activities showed him the process behind his favourite video games, which sparked his interest in coding. "At first I was in the Boys' Brigade, but I transferred to the Infocomm Club to learn more about coding," he said.

Coding key to websites, apps and games

WHAT IS CODING?

A computer code is a set of instructions that tells a programme what to do.

Coding is the act of writing these instructions so that computers and computer programs perform their functions.

WHY IS IT SIGNIFICANT?

Websites, apps and games work only because of the code written to create them. Without code, there will be no Internet, operating systems, computers or mobile phones.

HOW HARD IS IT TO LEARN?

Coding is easy to pick up, but difficult to master.

There are many online resources which provide firm foundations for the beginner. However, mastering a programming language and being able to code complex applications will take years of practice.

HOW ARE OTHER SCHOOL SYSTEMS AROUND THE WORLD PUSHING FOR CODING?

Several countries in the world have introduced computing and coding classes into their schools' curricula.

Israel was one of the first to do so in 2004, when a rigorous computer science programme was introduced for high school students.

In Britain, computing was included in the national curriculum in September last year for children aged five and above.

Students start by creating simple programs, before moving on to advanced computing topics such as Boolean logic and algorithms.

lesterh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 10, 2015.
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