Why the Netherlands should align its educational ecosystem with programming


Why the Netherlands should align its educational ecosystem with programming.

The Netherlands has been known for its technological innovation in the last decades through for companies like Philips and ASML. However due to both internal and external circumstances, it now faces the threat to be overtaken by other nations in terms of technological innovation. This requires change in the Dutch roots; namely its educational ecosystem where programming should be mandatory next to reading and writing (Neelie Kroes, 2014).

The problem

The Netherlands should step-up its ‘game’ for the following reasons. Firstly, complaints are surfacing about education (by far) not linking to the business needs in the Netherlands.  Technical knowledge is claimed to be one of the imperatives for Dutch global business success (TNO, 2014), however the Dutch education system is not aligned. This is exemplified by ‘Informatica’ (IT), a present course, in the Dutch secondary schools, which has not changed since 1995 (Frankwatching, 2013). Furthermore, emerging BRIC countries, where access to technology increases, are evolving from IT outsource destinations to high level knowledge-based economies, thus becoming rivals to the Netherlands.

The proposed solution

I would propose the following change in the Dutch educational system so that the Dutch knowledge-based economy can be sustained. This requires changes in the primary schools, secondary education and at university level.

Primary schools should be obliged to initially spend at least spend 2 hours per week on familiarising the children with the basics of programming. This amount of time should gradually increase, depending on feedback from teachers.

An array of tools is already available today and should be provided to the schools so that they are able to chose. This tools enable children to learn by doing in a fun setting. Personally, I was pretty surpises how advanced these tools already are. Popular tools used by primary schools are:

  • Scratch: learning programming step-by-step with enabling figures to make, make sounds and to react.
  • Pivot: learning programming through coming up with an adventure that your puppet will experience
  • Pop: let’s children make app prototypes by means of drawing and taking pictures
  • Daisy the Dinosaur: let’s you command your own pet-dinosaur

At secondary schools, children are faced with various courses like languages, mathematics and more. All adjusted to the level of education that one is obtaining. I propose to require programmings lessons at secondary education as well, tailored to the specific educational levels.

An interesting perspective that is heard more often, is that programming should replace certain languages taught at school like German and Classical languages (Frankwatching, 2013). German for example, becomes less relevant due to increasing fluency of English in Germany. Languages that are not used frequently anymore, are the classical languages like Latin and Greek that are thought to Gymnasium students. Replacing such courses, would free up space in order to make room for teaching the fundamentals of programming.

Multiple tools are available to integrate programming into curriculums like Codecadamy (free) and Treehouse (paid) that also offer learning by doing in an advanced setting.

University should also step up its game and seek more touch-points with the ‘new’ world of information systems, strategies and technology. Not only quantitative programming courses should be offered. For example, in Law and Philosophy also emerge new topics related to this new economy that require research and offer possibilities of integration.

This raises the following questions:

  • Would you think learning the essentials of programming add should be taught more?
    • If yes, do you then think it adds more value than the traditionally taught courses?
  • How would you implement it from a public government perspective?

Let’s make this an interactive thread!





Neelie Kroes – http://tweakers.net/nieuws/99114/neelie-kroes-programmeren-moet-verplicht-vak-op-basisschool-worden.html



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