UK Education: Lack of computer coding 'astonishing'

by Tineka Smith| 17 April 2012

Is the Raspberry Pi computer the answer in correcting the neglect of computer technology being taught in schools?

The first wave of Raspberry Pi computers are set to be out on April 20 which will give educators an opportunity to teach technology in schools. The Raspberry Pi computer was expected to be launched by the Raspberry Pi Foundation earlier this year with a cost as low as £16 (depending on the model). It has since faced several delays, but is expected to launch this week.

raspberry piraspberry pi
The implementation of Raspberry Pi computers into the UK school curriculums may help Britain's startling decline in students being properly education in IT. Between 2005 and 2010, there was a 57% drop in students achieving IT qualifications.

"I have always been astonished that basic computer literacy and coding are not part of our schools curriculum," said Gary David Smith, co-founder of Prism IT total solutions.

"I believe that the Raspberry Pi or a similar product should be available to all our children. There is a great deal of talent in Britain and the high-tech industries are the ones most likely to be able to create the growth and new jobs that the government craves," he said.

The government has taken notice and Education Secretary Michael Gove has plans for a major ICT curriculum overhaul within the UK by next fall.

"Currently the ITC taught in schools is more to do with how to use programmes rather than how to create them," said Smith. "The web has democratised business opportunities: if you can code and understand programming you give yourself a huge advantage."

Britain's dire need for IT education in schools has even been commented upon by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

"I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as a standard in UK schools, said Schmidt on a trip to the UK.

"Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made. That is just throwing away your great computer heritage."

The Raspberry Pi computer was developed by a group of volunteers from the UK technology industry and the IT educational sector to inspire an interest in coding amount young people.

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer board that plugs into a TV, a keyboard and to broadband. It runs a miniature ARM processor and performs much as a basic desktop PC does, perfect for operating spreadsheets, word-processing and

The hard drive is provided by SD cards, which users can then install open source software and operating systems on, such as Linux.

The computer which has no monitor, mouse, or keyboard while running on a freely available operating system is expected to significantly help develop children coding skills by creating their own games and functions.


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