3/27/2019

Japan Makes Coding Mandatory in Elementary School

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Japan says it will make basic computer programming a required subject in its elementary schools, beginning in April 2020.

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Japan says it will make basic computer programming a required subject in its elementary schools, beginning in April 2020.

The initiative aims to remedy Japan’s shortage of workers for information technology jobs. The country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says Japan will be short at least 290,000 such workers by 2020 and 590,000 by 2030, The Nikkei reports.

Coding basics will be introduced to fifth graders, who will use beginning principles to digitally draw polygons. Sixth-grade science classes will introduce writing commands for such things as making LED lights blink or instructing a tiny robot how to negotiate a maze. Subject matter will become increasingly more complex through high school.

Experts tell The Nikkei that the effort is a good start but without heavier support will leave Japan behind other tech-minded countries.

South Korea began working coding into curriculums at the elementary school level 12 years ago, the newspaper notes. It says the U.K. made programming mandatory for students between 5 and 16 years old.