Obec schools plan to teach 'coding'

Obec schools plan to teach 'coding'

Programme to help Prathom 1-3 pupils

Students examine a dead frog during an anatomy lesson held during a Science Week exhibition at Khon Kaen University yesterday. (Photo by Chakkrapan Natanri)
Students examine a dead frog during an anatomy lesson held during a Science Week exhibition at Khon Kaen University yesterday. (Photo by Chakkrapan Natanri)

Starting from November, when the second semester begins, some public schools under the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) will begin teaching computer coding to their Prathom 1-3 (Grade 1-3) students, Deputy Education Minister Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich said.

The Education Ministry yesterday held a press conference to officially announce the school coding project.

Khunying Kalaya, who oversees the project, said the Education Ministry will not force all government schools nationwide to teach coding but would allow and support the schools to teach coding of computer programmes to first, second and third graders on a voluntary basis.

"We want coding to be taught at as many schools as possible because coding is now a necessary skill for the 21st century. However, I understand that not all of the schools are ready due to a lack of resources, so only schools that are ready will be allowed to join the first phase of the project," she said.

The first phase of the programme will not require the use of computers, according Khunying Kalaya. Instead, students will be taught what is called "unplugged coding", or coding concepts that can improve children's creative and logical thinking.

She said the teaching that requires computers or "plugged coding" will be implemented later on when there are enough staff and equipment.

Khunying Kalaya said that about 1,000 primary school teachers nationwide will be selected and trained by experts at the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPTST) in a three-day training programme in September to become "master trainers".

The trained teachers will then be deployed across the country's 30,000 schools that are ready to begin carrying out the project and pass on knowledge and teaching techniques to other teachers.

"If the initial phase shows a positive result, the project will be expanded to cover students at middle and high school levels as well," she said.

A number of countries have started teaching children code, which is fundamental for the creation of applications and website software.

South Korea began working the subject more heavily into elementary and middle school curricula in a 2007 review of its educational system.

In 2014, the UK introduced programming into the mandatory education curriculum for students aged five to 16.

Japan also recently announced its plans to make coding a compulsory subject in primary schools by 2020.

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