Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Coding on Deck for Grade-School Students as B.C. Unveils New Curriculum

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Coding on Deck for Grade-School Students as B.C. Unveils New Curriculum

Article excerpt

New curriculum offers B.C. students coding basics

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VANCOUVER - Students in British Columbia's public elementary schools are on track to become the first generation to get basic training in computer coding as the province answers a call from its thriving tech sector.

Some children in grades six to nine will begin learning the ABCs of digital technology once the government adds coding to teachers' lesson plans in its modernized curriculum.

Schools will receive the new curriculum in September and the program is slated to be phased in over three years. The goal is to expose all kindergarten to Grade 12 students to coding basics within the next decade.

Premier Christy Clark announced the plan Monday among several initiatives to address a shortage of workers with digital skills that are needed by B.C. tech firms in the government's bid to bolster the knowledge economy.

"You've told us ... you need more talent. We know that's crucial for your success," Clark told about 2,800 delegates at the BCTech Summit.

"Tech companies will locate in places where they can find the people that will be capable of doing the work. We need to start that in our schools."

Specific details, including costs to implement the curriculum changes, weren't revealed as the program remains under development. Government officials said teachers will be given the opportunity to learn about coding during professional development days.

The officials said they looked to jurisdictions including Ontario and Britain as examples in designing the policy, but noted there's no place that's implemented coding long enough to know its results.

So far, the province has spent $500,000 running five coding academies over the past year for post-secondary students and has committed to expanding those camps into the next fiscal year. It also supported a program that ran nearly 700 events called Hour of Code.

Jeremy Shaki, CEO of Lighthouse Labs, which has held free coding boot camps for thousands of citizens, said he would have loved to see the new curriculum delivered last year, but is thrilled by recent progress. …

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