Google and IMDA to expand free coding classes initiative to benefit more students

(From left) IMDA Chief Executive Tan Kiat How, Google vice-president Caesar Sengupta and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat view Aiden McEwan’s Five Question Quiz project at the Code in the Community graduation ceremony at Our Tampines Hub on Jan 4, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Google is expanding the curriculum and scope of its Code in the Community (CITC) initiative, with 6,700 more students expected to benefit from an increased range of free coding classes over the next three years.

The tech giant and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) each contributed S$1 million towards the expanded initiative, which has equipped about 2,300 students from low-income families with basic coding skills since its launch in 2017.

The commitment was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (Jan 4) at a graduation ceremony for students who completed the programme in 2019 held at Our Tampines Hub.

"The programme has not only sparked an abiding interest in technology among many of its participants, but also helped them gain confidence in problem solving, taught them not to be afraid of failure, enabled them to discover the joy of learning, and helped them gain concrete skills to work towards goals, and eventually, fulfil their dreams," he said.

CITC currently offers a Foundational programme where students from eight to 12 learn the Scratch coding language and those from 13 to 16 learn the Python coding language, which is widely used in the technology sector.

With the expansion, graduates of the Foundational programme will now be able to move on to a new Applications programme, which will introduce more complex concepts and encourage students to apply what they have learnt through activities such as programming a robot.

Both programmes comprise 16 hours of classes spread across eight weeks.

At the graduation event, Google vice-president Caesar Sengupta said: "We're excited to join forces with IMDA to continue supporting a more inclusive digital society.

"By providing grant funding to Code in the Community, we want to empower all kids in Singapore to discover and explore technology."

Mr Heng said that the Singapore Government's Smart Nation vision is not just about having 5G Internet, artificial intelligence or driverless cars.

"At its heart, becoming a Smart Nation is about the community working together, so that no one - regardless of their age or background - is left behind by technology," he said.

From this year, all upper-primary students will be required to take a 10-hour coding programme, which is not examinable.

The first run of the expanded CITC will be from Feb 1 to March 22. Those interested can register and find out more at

Applications close on Jan 14. Additional reporting by Melissa Heng.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.