Coding classes for all upper primary pupils from 2020

Non-examinable 10-hour programme aims to expose them to skills needed in digital economy

The programme will seek to develop an appreciation of core computational thinking and coding concepts in pupils, through simple visual programming-based lessons. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

All upper primary pupils will take coding enrichment classes from next year to expose them to the skills needed to embrace new opportunities in the digital economy.

Efforts to equip Singapore's seniors with basic digital skills will also be ramped up, along with a continued drive to make it easier for businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to go digital, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said yesterday as he laid out his ministry's upcoming plans.

Another key move is setting up a telecoms cyber-security specialist team to ensure that the country's 5G network is designed to be secure, given that its ability to carry more data increases its vulnerability.

"We want to build a digital economy where every business is digitally empowered, every worker is digitally skilled and every citizen is digitally connected," said Mr Iswaran.

"This is our overall vision for an inclusive digital Singapore that brings benefits to all Singaporeans... We must also excite young Singaporeans about the new opportunities in the digital economy. For a start, we are exposing them to the skill sets that are needed."

This involves a 10-hour coding programme for Primary 6 pupils, which will be piloted at some schools this year, after their Primary School Leaving Examination, before being rolled out to Primary 4 to 6 pupils in all primary schools by next year.

Developed by the Education Ministry and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, and offered as an optional enrichment course since 2014, the Code For Fun programme aims to develop an appreciation for computational thinking and coding concepts, using tools such as simple visual-based programming and robotic kits.

Remote video URL

It will not be examinable.

The programme will continue as an option to complement existing computing subjects in secondary schools, helping students to go deeper into coding, while other initiatives for tertiary students will also be enhanced.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, for instance, will expand its youth engagement to reach out to 10,000 secondary and tertiary students in the next three years to expose them to the cyber-security sector through training boot camps, competitions, learning journeys and career mentoring sessions.

Digitalisation, however, must be pursued in tandem with "efforts to nurture the digital readiness of Singaporeans", said Mr Iswaran.

To this end, a new Digital Media and Information Literacy Framework will help public and private agencies to better develop and deliver literacy programmes to different segments of society, helping them understand online risks and how to use information responsibly.

From September, 100 workshops aimed at equipping Singapore's ageing population with basic digital skills will be rolled out. These Merdeka Generation digital clinics supplement existing efforts and are expected to reach about 10,000 seniors over a one-year period.

Mr Iswaran also highlighted how the Start Digital initiative, which allows new SMEs to take up government-subsidised digital solutions, has been well received. Since the programme's launch in January, more than 4,000 SMEs have tapped this initiative to go digital.

Digitalisation is here to stay, and Singapore needs to adapt to this new reality, the minister added.

"We are enhancing our regulations and strengthening our infrastructure to support the digital economy," he said.

"We are also reaching out to every enterprise, big or small; every worker, regardless of his or her industry or technical background; every citizen, regardless of his age or education level, so that we can bring all of them into this overall national effort."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline Coding classes for all upper primary pupils from 2020. Subscribe