Schools in Australia have been strongly pushing for a greater focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects beginning in the primary level.
On Friday, Sept.18, the country's education ministers have endorsed coding to replace geography and history as part of the new digital technologies curriculum, in which students will start learning to code in Year 5 and begin programming by Year 7.
The new curriculum was given a nod by Education Minister Christopher Pyne just in time before he became Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.
"High quality school STEM education is critically important for Australia's productivity and economy well-being, both now and into the future," said Pyne in a statement.
Pyne added that they are reviving the focus on STEM subjects in schools, with the teachers getting more STEM instruction as part of the teacher training.
Earlier this year, Pyne made a pledge to strengthen the country's skills base in science, technology, engineering or maths and also to push harder for the digital skills that are essential to succeed in the greatly competitive, tech-filled environment of the 21st century.
"We know that as computer-driven smart technology expands into every aspect of our recreational and working lives, there is an ever growing need for highly skilled workers in this global growth industry," said Pyne. "All children will need to understand is computational thinking and how it can contribute to their future."
Australia's new curriculum mirrors the successful programs that were likewise implemented in the United States. These include "Hour of Code" and Code.org which were also supported by Google and Microsoft.
The UK also introduced coding in their curriculum for primary schools last year.
In line with the new initiative, the government of Australia will be investing 12 million Australian dollars, or around $8.6 million, to be allocated to four STEM focus areas: computer coding introduction, innovative maths curriculum development, a site for a P-TECH styled pilot school, and summer schools funding for students under STEM who come from underrepresented groups.
The focus on coding in schools earned support from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten earlier this year. However, things were not quite the same with then Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
"He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future," said Abbott. "Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11?"