Classroom-based coding program part of Liberal government’s $50M commitment to teach students to code
The Liberal government is investing $50 million in young Canadians to equip them with the essential digital skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.
The CanCode program will invest $50 million over two years, starting in 2017-18, to support initiatives providing educational opportunities for coding and digital skills development to Canadian youth from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12). The Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the government’s new program during a stop at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. on Monday. The program will also equip 63,000 teachers across the country with the training and tools to teach digital skills and coding, Over 300,000 students in Ontario will be equipped with the in-demand digital literacy and problem solving skills required by today’s employers.
“Coding is the next big job,” said Minister Bains. “Industries ranging from automotive and agri-food to the life sciences and clean technology need coders, given their increasingly digital nature. That’s why our government is equipping Canadian youth with the digital skills they need for the jobs of the future. By teaching kids to code today, we’re positioning Canada for future success across all industries and sectors.”
Pam Damoff, Member of Parliament for Oakville North-Burlington, shared the federal government’s CanCode funding initiative at St. Christopher Catholic Elementary School on Thursday with grade 4 students who are learning to code thanks to the program’s funds. The Learning Partnership, a national charitable organization dedicated to building partnerships to support, promote and advance publicly funded education in Canada, will receive funding from the CanCode program and disperse it to schools like St. Christopher across the country to support local coding programs.
“As the workforce becomes increasingly more technology-driven, coding and digital literacy are seen as essential skills for future jobs, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),”said Damoff. “The federal government recognizes this need and is investing in the development of key digital skills to support youth across Canada.”
Funds received through the CanCode program will enable The Learning Partnership to expand its Coding Quest program – Canada’s largest classroom-based coding program for students in grades 4-6.
“We live in a constantly changing digital world where computer programs are the basis of everything,” said Gord McCarles, Principal at St. Christopher. “By teaching coding in our schools, it provides our students with a better understanding and appreciation of what can be built with this technology. We are very fortunate to have a number of teachers at St. Christopher who are innovators in the classroom. They are passionate about their teaching practice, and continue to think outside the box of ‘traditional’ learning, by providing students opportunities to challenge themselves, and try something new.”
Teacher Debbie Evangelista has taken the Coding Quest training and teaches coding skills to her grade 4 students at St. Christopher. “In the Coding Quest program, students are excited and engaged while developing coding skills,” she said. “Their final project, designing a video game, fosters analytical thinking and encourages collaboration. Students are proud to share their accomplishments with others and eager to continue their mastery of digital skills. As a teacher I am grateful for professional development opportunities, in order to successfully facilitate digital literacy imperative for today’s students.”
Canada is already home to one of the best educated workforces in the world, but in an increasingly competitive global economy, more needs to be done to ensure that Canadians can learn, adapt and secure good jobs. Budget 2017’s Innovation and Skills Plan advances an agenda to build Canada as a world-leading innovation economy that will create those jobs and grow the middle class. One of the key pillars of the plan is ensuring young Canadians get the skills and experience they need to kick-start their careers.
“Digital skills are tools of empowerment,” said MP Damoff. “Canada’s success in the digital economy depends on leveraging our diverse talent and providing opportunity for everyone to participate equally. Our government is committed to ensuring that all students– particularly, girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth and newcomers – who have been historically under-represented, are given equal opportunity to build Canada’s future. Investing in digital skills development through initiatives like CanCode will help to achieve this.”