In the age of digitalization, it is important that young people are introduced to the functionality and possibilities of computer technology at an early age. Accordingly, IT companies and scientists in particular have been calling for some time for teaching to be adapted to modern standards. The subject of computer science should play a major role in this. The Saarland is now making a first push in this regard. In the small state, the subject of computer science is to be compulsory for all pupils from the seventh grade onwards from 2023.
Informatics as basic knowledge
In addition to letters and numbers, programming languages should also become basic knowledge for the next generation. IT companies have been preaching this for a long time. According to experts, this is the only way to prevent the rampant shortage of skilled workers that already exists in Germany. Saarland is now taking a step in the right direction by changing computer science from an elective to a compulsory subject starting in 2023. Every student in seventh grade and above will then have to practice two hours of computer science each week.
Preventing skills shortages
Computer science instruction is not about students simply learning to use smartphones, tablets and PCs. Rather, it is significant that young people learn to read and write computer languages. This is the only way to prevent the shortage of skilled workers. But it’s not just about recruiting top IT talent. Computer science plays an important role in almost every workplace these days. After all, many workplaces simply have to know how to use programs like Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
Curriculum devised by experts
Becoming a required subject is a true honor for any subject. After all, it highlights the great importance of the subject matter. Naturally, students and teachers alike were all the more excited when the guidelines for the new compulsory subject of computer science were presented on Tuesday. This task was given to Saarland’s Minister of Education Christine Streichert-Clivot in person. Together with the well-known professor for computer science, Verena Wolf, she presented a concept. Concrete results in the form of curricula are to follow soon.
Students who have no contact with or interest in computer science should not be afraid of the new compulsory subject. After all, the curriculum should be designed in such a way that the subject of computer science always has points of contact with other subjects. After all, it is not in the interest of the Minister of Education,
“that students are exposed to additional stress.”
Practical teaching is the goal
Certainly, the demands on students in the new mandatory subject will be lower than they are in the current elective. Young people who don’t have a soft spot for PCs certainly won’t have to worry about having to fiddle with ones and zeros for two hours a week. In practice, there are completely different application possibilities. In particular, working with office applications can be ideally combined with other subjects. But a decisive drive is certainly also the creation of interest in computer science.
In this way, it is possible to discover undreamt-of talents already in adolescence, which could make a career as IT experts after graduation from school and subsequent specialized studies. Accordingly, the Minister of Education continued to say:
“Digitization and the associated transformation process is seen by us as a central challenge of education policy in the 21st century”
More equal opportunities
Without a computer along with the Internet in your own household today actually nothing goes. The gap between rich and poor is all the more apparent here, too. Children and young people from low-income families often do not have the opportunity to come into contact with IT technology. They simply have to be forced to learn how to use computers. After all, without this knowledge, it is almost impossible to get well-paid jobs in Germany. Accordingly, Streichert-Clivot describes the step as an important one in the direction of “educational equity.
Once this foundation has been laid, in a few years there should also be a much greater rush for training or courses of study in the field of IT. And this should also be more multifaceted than it has been up to now. Verena Wolf, a professor of computer science, says that currently not even 20 percent of people in the IT industry are female. A similarly miserable quota of women can also be observed in computer science courses at German universities.
“Wake-up call” for the IT industry
Just in time for International Women’s Day on March 8 this year, Bitkom published an interesting study on the proportion of women in German IT companies. This revealed that the industry has not seen a noticeable increase in women for years. Experience shows that it is unhealthy for corporate structures if there is hardly any diversity. So it’s hardly surprising that Sabine Bendiek, herself Vice President of Bitkom, sees the results of the statistics as a “wake-up call” for the entire industry. In her opinion, the current shortage of skilled workers could only be stopped if, as it were, women also found interest in computer science and embarked on a corresponding career. The government’s move in Saarland seems to be a step in the right direction in this respect. We are curious to see whether other German states will follow suit.