As part of efforts to create future growth engines of the nation’s “creative economy, the S. Korean government now puts a stronger emphasis on teaching students how to develop software at an early age.” “Reinforcing the competitiveness of the nation’s software sector is an urgent task for the sustainable development of the nation’s information technology (IT) industry. Software should take center stage in Korean society,” President Park Geun-hye said on Wednesday.
“Software education for future generations is all important. Just like the UK, India, Japan and China puts a high premium on teaching computer programming to students, S. Korea also has to beef up software education in elementary, middle and high schools.” President Park said during the Briefing on Strategies for Software-centered Society, held on Wednesday at Pangyo Techno Valley, just south of Seoul.
During the briefing, the Ministry of Education presented a plan for early software education. Under the plan, completing software courses will become compulsory next year starting with middle school freshmen; elementary schools will add computer programming to their regular curriculum from 2017: and high schools will make it an elective subject starting from 2018.
Once computer programming has been chosen as an official school subject, nurturing talent with creativity software-wise can start very early. In addition, it will raise the competitiveness of the nation’s software sector, as well as that of other industries.
Having felt the significance of early software education, Cho Sung-gap, Chairman of the Korea Information Processing Society (KIPS) and Korea Federation of Information Technology Societies (FITS), played a part in prompting the government to move forward with adding software development to the national curriculum. Twenty members of the FITS have continuously argued for the need for early software education by attending press conferences at the National Assembly and various discussions and writing to newspapers. “The government’s vision for a creative economy finally starts to take form. The FITS will continue to work to help the government draw up more desirable software policies,” Chairman Cho mentioned.
“Unless computer coding is connected to the national college entrance exam, it is hard for students to have motivations for learning computer coding. If adding the subject of software to the college entrance exam is too much of a burden on students, absolute evaluations could be used in measuring students’ knowledge of software,” President Park added, hinting at the possibility of including coding in the national college entrance exam.
As some media outlets talked about the likelihood of adding coding to the college entrance exam after President Park made such remarks, the Ministry of Education said, “We have yet to consider such a move. Even if software development is selected as a college entrance exam subject, it won’t happen until the 2021 college entrance exam, which students currently in the 5th grade would take.
“The government has pressed ahead with varied policies for the reinforcement of software competitiveness over the past two decades. But they had only a marginal effect. Hence thinking of this plan as the nation’s last chance, the government and the public should strongly unite in pushing for this, President Park continued.