- Vice President Education and Operations TU Delft
- Former President of the OpenCourseWare Consortium
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I attended an event on coding skills in primary and secondary education, organised by FutureNL. About 100 dedicated people from business and education, most of them passsionate volunteers, got together to discuss how we can make sure that programming skills will become part of education in the Netherlands. Prince Constantijn and former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes were present as ambassadors of FutureNL.
At TU Delft, many bachelor and master programmes already include programming, but not all our students learn how to code. That is why we decided that from 2018 on coding and compuational thinking will become a compulsory part of all our students’ education.
But coding is not something only for engineers. A few years from now almost everybody will need digital skills in his or her work. For some a basic understanding and being able to work with standard sotfware will be sufficient. Many people, however, will need much more in their jobs. They will be the ones who will work in the rapidly growing IT sector, the ones who create the new digital world.
Understanding that digital world will be increasingly important in our daily life as well. During the FutureNL event Neelie Kroes said that if we don’t act a divison in society will evolve between the digital haves and have-nots, those who understand the digital world and those who do not and feel left out. So digital skills and understanding are important for all children.
Many parents, employers, schools and teachers agree. Organisations such as CodeUur have developed free materials for primary schools and many volunteers have offered their services to schools. What is lacking is a clear national policy. Unlike many countries (see the map below), programming and ompuational thinking are no compulsary part of primary or secondary education in the Netherlands. The Netherlands should follow the example of countries such as Portugal, the UK and Poland and prepare our children better for their future.