Currently, in China, it is very common to meet kids, including some as young as six learning basics of computer programming. This craze is being fueled by the government, which is now publicly advocating for the need to shift the economy from factories to scientific innovation. The government has started promoting technology incubators and startups as part of a national plan to make China an innovation powerhouse by 2020.
One institution called Terena Learning Center launched its first junior coding about a year ago in Beijing with about 50 children. As of now, the number has hit 4,000 kids. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang noted when the plan to campaign for coding for children was launched in July that they are giving top priority to innovation.
China efforts are commendable though they don’t imply the country is on the technology cutting edge. In fact, the country’s economy is lagging behind when it comes to innovation. Many developed countries, including U.S., are way ahead in advancing digital literacy, according to a survey conducted 2011 of worldwide digital literacy.
In 2013, Britain announced a change in its national school curriculum to make coding a compulsory subject in primary school. During that period, the government pointed out that it was essential to replace the outdated vision of computer education that was ‘about as much as teaching kids to send a telex.’ The US is also aiming to boost digital literacy among children. For instance, the MIT Media Lab offers a free iPad app called ScracthJr, which helps children aged as young as five to learn basic coding.
Kids in China are finding the push more organic among parents looking beyond dance lessons or math to enhance their children’s development. The growing demand for coding in kids is seeing private schools and summer camps crop up in cities across the country. There is also a site that offers free information and coding course targeting all ages.
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