500 children complete first half of Google coding programme in pilot year

From left: Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah interacts with graduating students Aneesh Ashouk Giri, and Anesha Leoraa Giri, at the Google office on May 20, 2017.
From left: Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah interacts with graduating students Aneesh Ashouk Giri, and Anesha Leoraa Giri, at the Google office on May 20, 2017.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
From left: Students Keeret Singh Sandhu, Celeste Low, and Matthew Chua, demonstrate coding at the Google office on May 20, 2017.
From left: Students Keeret Singh Sandhu, Celeste Low, and Matthew Chua, demonstrate coding at the Google office on May 20, 2017.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Students and parents pose for a group photograph at the Google office during the graduation ceremony for the first cohort of 500 students who completed their first term of Google Code in the Community on May 20, 2017.
Students and parents pose for a group photograph at the Google office during the graduation ceremony for the first cohort of 500 students who completed their first term of Google Code in the Community on May 20, 2017.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Law and President of SINDA Executive Committee, Indranee Rajah with participants and their coding projects.
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Law and President of SINDA Executive Committee, Indranee Rajah with participants and their coding projects.ST PHOTO: CHARMAINE NG
Celeste Low, 15, showing how her project to encrypt and decrypt messages works. She is one of 300 kids aged 8 to 15 years old who graduated from Term 1 of Google's Code in the Community this morning. ST VIDEO: CHARMAINE NG
Keeret Singh Sandhu, 13, explaining how his programme can authenticate NRIC numbers. ST VIDEO: CHARMAINE NG

SINGAPORE - After attending a 10-week coding course, 15-year-old Celeste Low believes she is one step closer to her childhood dream of being a spy.

With the help of instructors from Google's Code in the Community programme, the Secondary 3 student from the School of Science and Technology developed from scratch a programme that can encrypt secret messages so that they are unreadable to prying eyes.

Celeste is one of about 500 children aged 8 to 15 years old that have completed the first half of a 20-week coding programme funded by Google.

The programme, which was launched in January, is conducted in partnership with the four self-help groups - Chinese Development Assistance Council, Eurasian Association, Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) and Yayasan Mendaki.

The coding skills that the children have picked up will better prepare them for the future, said Google's director of people operations D. N. Prasad, at the graduation ceremony at the Google Asia Pacific office in Pasir Panjang on Saturday (May 20).

"We're truly inspired by what the first cohort of kids to graduate from Code in the Community has achieved. They're having fun while learning, and picking up skills that will prepare them for jobs of the future," said Mr Prasad.

The ceremony was also attended by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law and President of SINDA Executive Committee, Indranee Rajah, who viewed demonstrations of some student projects, including Celeste's encryption programme.

The young coders will be continuing on the second term of the coding course in July, where those aged 8 to 11 years old will learn the basics through an interactive software programme called Scratch, and those aged 12 to 15 years old will acquire skills in the programming language Python.

The Code in the Community programme will run for three years, and Google aims to reach out to 3,000 young Singaporeans from less privileged backgrounds, by expanding the programme to schools in the next two years.