French schoolkids to get programming lessons from September

Lessons on how to code will be offered to primary school kids from the next school year.

Once, the three Rs of basic education were reading, writing and arithmetic. For tomorrow's kids, could they become reading, writing, and Ruby?

A number of countries in the developed world have launched government initiatives aimed at getting younger kids coding in recent years. France looks to be the next, with the country's education minister revealing that programming classes will soon be made available to primary schoolchildren.

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The minister Benoît Harmon told Le Journal de Dimanche that coding lessons for elementary school pupils will be brought in this September.

While the traditional skills of reading, writing, and maths remain a priority, "schools cannot ignore the importance of digital", Harmon told the paper. "The question is no longer about whether children need to learn about IT and programming, but about how, in what circumstances, and at what stage of the curriculum they should do so," he said.

The classes will be offered on an optional basis, and after normal school hours. The Conseil supérieur des programmes, an independent advisory body, has stipulated the classes should be used to teach children the principles of programming, and how to create apps using "simple algorithms".

"It's about giving everyone the skills necessary for our connected world," Harmon said. "It's not about making all schoolchildren into developers, but about finding talent and encouraging the right skills."

Elsewhere in Europe, similar coding lessons have been brought in for schoolchildren.

In the UK, for example, prime minister David Cameron last year promised a new curriculum that would see schoolchildren aged between five and seven taught "what algorithms are" and how to "create and debug simple programs".

In Estonia, programming classes were introduced for those in the first grade or above, a relatively new development aimed at building up the country's IT skills base .

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