IDA plans to introduce programming lessons in public schools to boost the economy

According to the Straits Times, about 1,500 students have been taught “advanced computing concepts” through IDA’s school programs. At Radin Mas Primary School, Nan Chiau High, and Greenview Secondary School, students are taught to use 3D design software and 3D printers to create prototypes.

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Meanwhile, Hwa Chong Institution and Dunman High have introduced programming to teenagers, with Dunman exposing students to Python, a popular language for creating web apps as well as statistical and scientific research.

These schools all belong to the middle-to-upper tier in Singapore’s public education system – lauded as among the world’s best in math and science – with Hwa Chong in particular representing an elite school. As technical skills increasingly become a pathway to sustainable careers, it is hoped that IDA can equalize the field by giving students from less prestigious schools more opportunities to pick up programming.

Private classes are available

Private education providers have proliferated in Singapore, offering a variety of workshops ranging from 3D printing to hardware tinkering to app creation – which has unfortunately been touted as the next great internet marketing scheme.

According to private IT education vendor  more parents are recognizing the value of technical competency in the modern economy, and they want their kids to build a foundation at an early age. For the company, this has resulted in an increase in sign-ups for classes at a 30 percent annual rate in the past two years.

“[Parents want their kids] exposed to this, so it makes it easier for them to make a career choice earlier. We also see many polytechnic and university students coming in because they found it challenging when they directly face programming in college first,” said one of the trainers in an interview with Good Morning Singapore.

A major impetus for the push in both countries is a shortage of technical talent – the lifeblood of the tech startup scene – that are product creators instead of just system maintainers. Tight immigration policies in both nations are also resulting in an inward look to nurture talent at the grassroots.

In Singapore, the challenge doesn’t lie just in developing technical know-how. It’s even more difficult to convince young people that the engineering path is one worth pursuing, rather than one to fall back on when opportunities for more prestigious careers in law, finance, or medicine appear out of reach.