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Translation in English:
As big as Tokyo 23 wards, needing to import water for its survival, Singapore is a top class developed country in the world. Built only about 50 years ago, the reason for her success are meritocracy and its biggest natural resources, people. With about 17% of her budget spent on education (compared to 7% in Japan), Singapore places great emphasis on her education policy.
In Singpoare, learning to do “coding” (programming) is currently getting lots of attention. Coding is something that is used to write programs to run in computers, but because it can also cultivate logical thinking, it is currently a topic getting attention.
Coding as a Subject for Examination
In Singapore, under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is a mathematician, is pushing forward with a “Smart Country Strategy”, where technology is key in providing convenience and efficient lifestyle. IT education is being incorporated into her education system to drive this technology push. According to OECD’s PISA (an indicator of education level) latest test results, Singapore is already showing good results, reaching an overall of 2nd place, and were placed first in areas such as Digital Reading Ability and Digital Mathematics Literacy.
The Ministry of Smart Country Strategy has already declared education as one of the key to the strategy success. Singapore’s government is supporting this motion by adding Programming as an high school entry examination subject for 19 of her secondary schools next year. On top of that, Singapore is also starting “Computing” courses with “Coding” as the center of the curriculum.
Nurturing the Next Generation
In Singapore, where end of primary school examinations can influence a child’s future education endeavors, there is a passion to adopt various learning early. Under this flow, learning to do “coding” early is catching on.
According to Coding School “Coding Lab” founder, Foo Yong Ning, he mentioned that “5 years ago, you will see only children above 12 years old coming to coding schools. However, in the last 2, 3 years, we have seen an increase of 8-12 years old attending coding classes. Recently, we are even receiving enquiries about classes for 7 years old and below, though we do not have classes for them yet.”
As a father of 2 children himself, Foo, a graduate of MIT, with experience working in Silicon Valley, “For children born in this digital era, Coding which teaches logical thinking and problem solving, and mathematics, are necessary in many aspects in Life”. Foo set up Coding Lab in 2015 and is now providing coding classes for children between 4 to 12.
Classes revolves around making games and animation, while teaching the essentials of coding. Children interact with the computer screens, learning while having fun.
According to N, parent of a 10 year old girl who studied class at the school, “While creating animations, a single error in the coding process could result in things not showing up correctly. I think building up this logical process is very good practice for the mind.”
Coding is turning children into Creators rather than just Consumers
Children of this age lives in a very different environment than their parents’. Saying that, there are probably still parents afraid to expose digital media to their kids too early.
In response to that, Foo reply was “Exposing children to coding early in their lives will allow them to not be just consumers of games and/or animations, but rather, develops them to learn how things work internally and thus nurture them as creators of digital media.”
N, who had enrolled her daughter to various enrichment classes before this, agrees that coding indeed helped to grow her daughter creativity.
With English as her main language of communication, and her current development as base, Singapore is incorporating rapidly programming, said to be the third language, into her secondary school curriculum. At the back of that, this can be seen as an initiative to build up “creativity”, something that is definitely needed in the future.