The Telstra Foundation is backing the launch of Code Club Australia, the local branch of a global initiative to give school children the chance to learn how to code by providing project materials and volunteer-led coding clubs.
The launch of Code Club Australia sees the establishment of a network of coding clubs in Australia for children aged nine to 11. Already, the project has completed a successful trial, with 500 children taking up the opportunity to learn coding.
Code Club creates projects for volunteers to teach at after-school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries, teaching children how to program by showing how to make computer games, animations, and websites.
Annie Parker, founder of Code Club Australia, and co-founder of the Telstra-backed startup accelerator muru-D, said the launch is a big step toward ensuring that Australian children have access to the skills that will set them up for future success.
"Coding is the new literacy, and as a country, we have to acknowledge that software is the language of business today," said Parker. "It's what is going to best prepare our children whilst encouraging problem-solving abilities and digital confidence.
"We don't expect that every child will be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but not enough has been done in recent years to ensure our kids are learning the best balance of skills to allow them to operate in a world where almost everything has a digital component," she said.
Originally founded in the UK, the Code Club World network now counts more than 2,700 clubs that have helped teach 40,000 children how to code, in countries as diverse as Brazil, Ukraine, Norway, and Hong Kong.
Telstra chairman and Code Club Australia's first national ambassador Catherine Livingstone said that coding would play a critical role in creating the skills that would underpin Australia's future competitiveness.
"The world is being shaped by digital technologies, and Code Club is critical in building a relevant skill base for Australia's future," said Livingstone. "Our ability to equip our young people with these essential skills is going to be the difference between a prosperous Australia, competing and innovating on the global stage, and being left behind.
"So many of tomorrow's jobs are going to require some level of knowledge about computer coding, and I believe these skills will come to rank with literacy and numeracy as fundamental, if they don't already," she said.