Yesterday was the official launch of the "Hour of Code": a massive campaign to encourage programming and promote computer science in schools across the globe.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the initiative has been masterminded by Code.org, a non-profit supported by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and other tech luminaries. It will reach across 33,000 schools in 166 countries, which will all set aside at least one hour this week to teaching computer science. It coincides with this year's Computer Science Education Week.
Backed by President Obama, as well as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, it's hoped that the initiative could help bridge a growing divide between Silicon Valley and US curricula. "Don't just download the latest app, help design it," says Obama, inspirationally. "Don't just play on your phone, program. No one's born a computer scientist, but with a little hard work — and some maths and science — just about anyone can become one."
Which is in some sense great: the Bureau of Labour estimates that more than 140,000 computer science jobs are added to the American economy every year, but the National Science Foundation estimates that just 40,000 college students are graduating with computer science degrees per year.
So, a world where education involves a better understanding of computer science is one we can get on board with. But it's unclear how inspiring the rallying words of a president who isn't even allowed to use an iPhone. Aren't there better spokespeople to champion coding?
Still, it's worth recognising just how impressive corralling 33,000 schools in 166 countries into promoting computer science is. Here's hoping that it works some magic. [Wall Street Journal]