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Primary kids to learn "language of the 21st century"

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The Weatherill Government has today announced $6.7 million to support a coding and entrepreneurship program in all state primary schools if it wins next month’s election.

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The funding, to be allocated over the next four years, would be used to train teachers in coding technology.

Coding is already a component of the Australian Curriculum and is being taught to children as young as Reception-grade in South Australian schools.

It involves configuring computer software, apps and websites to make them perform desired tasks.

Labor’s announcement follows a push from federal and state governments to place greater focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects from a primary level.

Education Minister Susan Close said the funding would be spent on professional development for the state’s public primary school teachers.

“For many teachers, coding isn’t what they learnt when they were at school or university,” she said.

“We have over 500 STEM leaders that are being trained within our primary schools – more than one for each school – who’ll be leading the way in which Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths teaching occurs in the school.

“What we need is to make sure there’s a specific competence in coding training and that’s why we’re getting teachers to develop those skills.”

The State Government says it has already invested $250 million towards new STEM facilities in public schools, and has pledged a further $70 million to provide every Year 10 public school student with a government-funded laptop.

Premier Jay Weatherill described coding as “the language of the 21st century” and said today’s funding promise would help better equip students for the future jobs market.

“With thousands of jobs in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence in the pipeline, we need the next generation to be ready for the jobs of the future,” he said.

The Liberal Party’s education policy platform includes transitioning Year 7 into high school and improving the teaching of secondary languages in government schools.

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