Government should capitalise on the astonishing success of the Raspberry Pi computer to ensure that coding is taught in schools as a priority. The Raspberry Pi – designed by academic and IT industry volunteers to inspire an interest in coding among young people – was launched by the Raspberry Pi Foundation last week at a cost of £22 and is currently selling at 700 per second according to one of its main distributors.
I have always been astonished that basic computer literacy and coding are not part of our schools curriculum.
There is nothing to stop one of the IT giants from producing a similar product. The Raspberry Pi has demonstrated that there is a hunger amongst young people to engage with coding and programming. But I believe that safeguarding Britain’s computing heritage should be a government sponsored.
Currently the ITC taught in schools is more to do with how to use programmes rather than how to create them. The Web has democratised business opportunities: if you can code and understand programming you give yourself a huge advantage.
There is a great deal of talent in Britain and the high-tech industries are the ones most likely to be able to create the growth and new jobs that the government craves. I’m from a Cheshire town that has witnessed its textile businesses go bust and all the mills be turned into apartments. I, for one, do not want to watch the same thing happen to British IT businesses.
The Raspberry Pi is supplied without monitor, keyboard or mouse and runs a freely available operating system and a ‘start-up’ educational coding tool. Children are expected to cut their coding teeth largely through creating their own games and functions on the £22 machine.
Britain has recently experienced startling drop in the number of students achieving IT qualifications – there was a 57% decline between 2005 and 2010. Last year, on a trip to the UK Eric Schmidt – CEO of Google – said: “I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn’t even taught as a standard in UK schools. Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it’s made. That is just throwing away your great computer heritage.”
Britain’s computer heritage:
- Charles Babbage, an Englishman, is considered the father of the computer
- The work by Alan Turing (English) and others at Bletchley Park during WW2 was the foundation of the modern computer
- English physicist Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.