All public primary school students in South Australia will be taught coding and entrepreneurship as part of a near-$7 million state government election pitch.
If re-elected in next month, the state Labor party has promised to invest $6.7 million in a program to train teachers in coding. It will be then be taught along with entrepreneurship to all 114,000 of the state’s public primary school students.
South Australian premier Jay Weatherill said it’s all about getting students ready for the “jobs of the future”.
“Coding is the language of the 21st century, and it will help to make sure we have our children prepared to have the jobs of the 21st century,” Mr Weatherill told reporters.
“Learning coding empowers students to be able to understand the technology shaping our world. Coding skills include hand-crafting your own websites, becoming a career coder or even starting a technology business,” he said.
The Premier said the new investment would work in tandem with the state government's $70 million plan to provide a laptop to all Year 10 and higher students in public schools and upgrades to broadband speeds at schools.
“We’ve provided internet access to ensure our children have the access to superfast broadband. We’ve provided the equipment through the laptops to ensure they have the equipment they need,” Mr Weatherill said.
SA Education Minister Susan Close said that while coding is already in the national curriculum, the funding will go towards training teachers in coding and problem-solving tasks to pass on to the students.
South Australia has 500 “STEM leaders” trained in primary schools, and these teachers will be taught coding and then share it with their schools.
“Coding is already in the Australian curriculum and we understand how important it is for children to grasp the concepts of it,” Ms Close said.
“What’s important is that the teachers who are offering the teaching to the students are well trained. For many teachers, coding wasn't a part of what they learned in university.”
“We’re spending to train teachers in primary schools to be able to teach the curriculum, to stretch students and to really help them develop core and high-level skills in coding.”
Jobs of the future
South Australians will go to the polls on March 17, and the state government has placed a significant focus of its re-election on education and the jobs of the future.
In January, Mr Weatherill announced that all senior school students at public schools in the states would receive a laptop by 2021. If re-elected, the government would run a pilot of the program by providing all year 10 students with a laptop by 2019.
“Unfortunately, not every family can afford a home computer, let alone personal laptops for their children. Labor believes that education should be accessible to everyone, and this initiative will help our public school students to get ahead,” Mr Weatherill said.
A few weeks later, the government pledged to upgrade broadband speeds, increasing average speeds by ten times.
“Having a faster internet speed has so many advantages and with styles of learnings, teaching and careers rapidly changing it’s absolutely critical that our students are equipped with the best resources and technology to help them excel,” Ms Close said.