Press communiqué after the WCCE-2017
World Conference on Computing in Education (WCCE 2017) demands 7.5% GDP for Education Worldwide
L-r: Mike Hinchey – President, IFIP; Declan Brady – President, Irish Computer Society; Denise Leahy – Chair of Local Organising Committee, Irish Computer Society; Richard Bruton – MInister for Education & Skills, Don Passey – Chair of WCCE 2017 International Programme Committee; Sindre Rosvik – Chair of IFIP TC3
Delegates from over 50 countries worldwide met this week at the World Conference on Computing in Education in Dublin Castle to discuss the future of education.
The conference was formally opened by Minister for Education & Skills, Richard Bruton who underlined the importance of an education system which embraces technology and uses it to prepare students for the jobs of the future. Referring to his previous role as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation he said that it was the strength of our education system was one of the instrumental factors in tackling the recent jobs crisis. Furthermore Minister Bruton explained that it was imperative that Ireland provided students the skills to keep Ireland’s tech sector at the forefront of global technology.
Representatives from OECD and UNESCO supported the Minister’s policy message with presentations which showed the growing reliance on technology both at home and in the workplace yet a stagnation of technology enhanced learning in the classroom and huge inequalities in access to broadband, computers and adequately trained teachers of computing both domestically and abroad.
‘In terms of computing, computer education and uses of technologies for teaching and learning are we know, in 2017, at a pivotal point of change? It is clear that international, national and local computer and educational technology strategies, policies and curricula are shifting. Learners of all ages and levels can benefit from and arguably should be enabled to develop opportunities that such technologies offer not only for their individual futures but also for the future of our wider communities and society as a whole’, said Prof Don Passey, Chair of the WCCE International Programme Committee.
The event which was hosted by the Irish Computer Society on behalf of IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing) also included a meeting of the Irish Digital Jobs & Skills Coalition and a consultation on the progress and challenges of embedding Computer Science within the secondary school curriculum.
New Leaving Cert Computer Science syllabus discussed
At the conference, an expert working group discussed a proposed new Leaving Cert Computer Science syllabus. The session, led by the ICS Foundation, with EdTech Ventures, Computers in Education Society of Ireland, (CESI) and H2 Learning, considered the implementation of the curriculum by September 2018.
Progress to date made by NCCA was welcomed by the group but concerns about upskilling teachers and the challenges of converting Computer Science graduates to teachers in short time frame still remain.
Mary Cleary, Deputy CEO of the ICS Foundation said, ‘introducing Computer Science at senior cycle with only short courses at junior cycle is a challenge but the group is confident in increasing uptake among schools and calls on parents and students to urge their schools to take an active part in implementing the curriculum at a local level.’
‘The challenge of producing teaching and learning resources to support the curriculum as it emerges still remains. The Computer Science curriculum needs to be more flexible than many other subjects given the dynamic and ever-changing nature of IT and we need to incentivise our schools to take on the new subject. Ideally we would like to see the process of teaching computing at starting primary school and testing beginning at junior cycle level, continued Ms Cleary.
Jim Friars, CEO of the Irish Computer Society (which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary) said, ‘it is important that we continue to teach all Irish students the digital skills required to operate safely and efficiently in a modern work environment, we are fulfilling this through programmes such as ECDL in schools, offices and in partnership with organisations such as Solas. But we now need to make the same progress in terms developing computational thinking and coding skills among children, formally recognise Computer Science as the ‘Fourth Science’ in the classroom and at the very least give it the same resources and funding as Physics, Chemistry and Biology’.
‘The private, public and education sectors need to work together to encourage students into computing subjects. Recent cyber-attacks highlight the importance of digital skills to businesses and society as a whole as well as the need for us all to protect ourselves online. We must ensure future generations are equipped with these skills to secure our position as a leading digital economy’, continued Mr Friars
The digital economy is growing at an unprecedented level but work must continue to boost the talent pipeline so that Ireland can capitalise on opportunities. Digital skills are at the heart of the new Skills Agenda for Europe that the European Commission published in June. The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition brings together Member States, companies, social partners, non-profit organisations and education providers who take action to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.
Lord David Puttnam, fulfilling his final duty as Digital Champion for Ireland spoke passionately of his work in this area since 1992, asked delegates from all countries to demand 7% GDP from their respective governments to be spent on Education and demonstrated his own virtual classroom which he uses to teach in six universities worldwide from the comfort of his home in Skibereen, Co. Cork. Currently Ireland spends 5.2% of GDP on Education only equalling the OECD average according to the most recent Department of Education reports
click at the link below the button“Download this”to have the book of abstracts