China's primary and secondary school kids to learn coding

China's Ministry of Education said that during its ongoing curriculum revision launched early last year for compulsory education - first grade to ninth - it decided to include coding in IT courses. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
China's Ministry of Education said that during its ongoing curriculum revision launched early last year for compulsory education - first grade to ninth - it decided to include coding in IT courses. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING • China plans to include computer coding in curricula for primary and middle school students to help them learn about information technology (IT) and develop digital learning and innovation skills, the Ministry of Education said.

During its ongoing curriculum revision launched early last year for compulsory education - first grade to ninth - the ministry made a preliminary decision to include coding in IT courses, it said in a statement posted on its website last week.

It was responding to a call by a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee this year for coding to be included in basic education to nurture digital talent in the country.

The ministry said improving students' IT skills is important and it has issued guidelines to promote and regulate coding education.

The State Council released a guideline in 2017 requiring schools to incorporate coding in computer courses. It also encouraged the development of interesting learning tools for coding education.

Chongqing Municipal Education Commission issued a notice in 2018 requiring primary school pupils to have at least 36 hours of coding instruction from third to sixth grade, with the same requirement for middle school students from seventh to ninth grade.

Each school should be equipped with at least one full-time coding teacher, the notice said.

Learning coding is not designed to encourage students to become programmers, but to cultivate their abilities to think logically and solve problems, it said.

Since 2018, Zhejiang province has listed information technology as an optional subject in the national college entrance examination, with programming an important part of it.

Chinese parents who realise coding is one of the best ways to prepare children for a future that requires tech-related skills are enrolling them in coding classes provided by after-school training institutions.

Mr Jiang Chun, father of a fourth grader in Beijing, said he signed up his 10-year-old son for an online coding cram course in March and it has become one of the boy's favourite after-school courses.

His son took the course for two hours, twice a week, and Mr Jiang said he had spent around 10,000 yuan (S$2,000) on it.

Coding could also help his son develop coordination and logical thinking, and another benefit was that he would be less likely to become addicted to online games once he knew how to develop them, Mr Jiang said.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2020, with the headline 'China's primary and secondary school kids to learn coding'. Subscribe