22 Oct Tencent works with Scratch to launch coding platform for kids
Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/26 19:23:40
It has become more and more common in China for children to start learning about and practicing computer coding from an early age. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings launched on Sunday a coding training platform for primary and middle school students, echoing the Chinese government’s efforts in pushing forward education in artificial intelligence (AI).
The new coding platform, based on Scratch, the MIT Media Lab tool that teaches kids how to code, will offer coding courses for children from nine to 18 years old, according to domestic news site jiemian.com.
The platform has opened coding courses at Peking University-affiliated primary and secondary schools, as well as the Shenzhen Mingde Elementary and Middle School. Tencent aims to promote the platform to about 1,000 schools in the future, according to the report.
China is now encouraging AI-related courses in primary and secondary schools and is gradually promoting programming education, according to a guideline of the Ministry of Education published on March 13.
Coding classes became the second most popular courses among teenagers in 2018 after English classes, after the government unveiled a plan for AI development in 2017, domestic news site stcn.com reported in February.
Computer programming becoming part of primary and middle school education means the subject is shifting from the status of vocational training to part of the basic education system amid China’s national campaign to strengthen technological education, analyst said.
Zhang Yi, chief executive officer of iiMedia Research, stressed that computer programming education among younger children is expected to expand China’s talent base to meet fierce scientific challenges in the future.
Supportive policies have helped drive rising investment in the industry. Start-ups are receiving more funds and developing at full speed, and technology giants like Tencent, Baidu and NetEase are also adding inputs, jiemian.com said.
Codemao, a kids’ coding start-up, announced in January that it has raised nearly 600 million yuan ($89 million) and plans an IPO within two years. Baidu has invested millions in BESTCODE, a kids’ coding platform, according to the report.
According to a report from iResearch, the market for coding education has reached about 3-4 billion yuan, and the number of users has reached 15.5 million by 2018.
The report forecast that with the continuous emergence of favorable policies, the industry will reach 30 billion yuan in output value in five years.
Zhang said that the “investment fever” should be well utilized to genuinely improve the computer education level of children, rather than seek quick returns and “leave a mess” in the end.