A Free Initiative Will Help Address the Lack of Qualified Computer Science Teachers
Computer science teachers at primary schools do not have enough teaching aids and often lack sufficient education. According to the school inspection data, up to 45 % of schools do not have a single qualified computer science teacher. Digital skills will become an inevitable necessity in the future job market. The Business Leaders Forum platform decided to react to this situation. Within the Digital Skills programme, it now provides teachers with free coding and cybersecurity training.
Slovak companies react to shortcomings in the education system
Initiated by Accenture, the Digital Skills programme was established in the Business Leaders Forum. Companies such as ESET, Orange Slovakia, Slovak Telekom, and TNT Express Worldwide have all joined this expert volunteering project which had been implemented by Accenture for several years before. Volunteers from these 5 companies have been training computer science teachers from primary schools on coding and cybersecurity since February 2019.
During their coding sessions, the trainers use the Code.org website, which includes free materials for teachers and free courses that can be used in class. Thanks to these materials, the teachers can teach their pupils coding and logical thinking in a more creative and engaging manner. They focus mainly on developing creativity, critical thinking and the ability to work in a team – that is, the skills that will be crucial for children in the future when they will be looking for jobs or starting their own businesses.
“In addition to teaching specific coding concepts, the Code.org courses also purposely develop pupils’ soft skills,” says Martina Pometlová, Manager at Accenture, who has led the initiative from the beginning. “The courses contain exercises focused on how to work with an error when pupils are to identify and correct a pre-prepared bug, supporting perseverance and resistance against frustration, as well as promoting collaboration and communication between pupils. These procedures are known in the Slovak education system, but it is not always easy for teachers to transfer them from theory to practice. The Code.org courses focus on the removal of this obstacle, making it usable for all educators, even without previous training,” she adds. According to the Slovak State Education Programme, the Code.org courses cover a section of education called Algorithmic Problem Solving.
Applicants can sign up to the programme at this website: www.ds.blf.sk. The course is open to primary school teachers from both the first and the second level, who have basic knowledge of work with a PC and the Internet. Experience with coding is not necessary as the curriculum is designed to allow for teaching the subject without any previous experience.
They also fight cyberbullying
The content on digital security is also an important part of the courses. ESET and Orange Slovakia have added to the programme their own content in these respective topics. “For many children, issues such as “password hacking”, cyberbullying and identity theft are a daily reality. Knowing these risks and being able to avoid them are among the crucial skills required in the world of digital devices and online services. That is why we decided to contribute by creating the Digital Security Guide which will provide basic information and, through specific activities, will show teachers and their pupils what they can do,” explained Ondrej Kubovič and Jakub Daubner, the authors of the material from ESET.
In 2006 already, the telecommunications operator Orange Slovakia pointed out the increasing trend of the Internet risk and launched a campaign that aimed to raise children’s awareness of the negatives of using mobile phones and the Internet. In cooperation with experts, they have been helping parents, teachers and children to orientate and find the right balance between the benefits of communication technology and risks awaiting online. “Our website www.detinanete.sk serves as the main platform. It is full of information, expert advice, playful tests, and inspirations by the child psychologist Mária Tóthová Šimčáková, with whom we have been cooperating for a long time. In the first place, we shared our know-how with the creators of the Internet Security Training Handbook by ESET. We want to disseminate it further among computer science teachers,” adds Milica Danková, Foundation Manager and Corporate Responsibility Specialist at Orange.
In all districts by the end of 2019
The advantage of the course is that teachers can use it during their classes right after graduation from the programme. According to the results so far, the materials are used by almost half of the course graduates. That is why the Business Leaders Forum aims to bring these training sessions to all districts in Slovakia. They will take place in two terms, from February to May and from September to December. “The support and promotion of expert volunteering are one of the most important issues of responsible entrepreneurship. It has a positive impact on both society and company employees, who engage and commit to positive social change,” concludes Michal Kišša, Executive Director of the Business Leaders Forum.
Dates of next training sessions
- 7th March 2019 – Piešťany
- 11th March 2019 – Šamorín
- 13th March 2019 – Levice
- 14th March 2019 – Trenčín
- 19th March 2019 – Handlová
- 20th March 2019 – Banská Bystrica
- 21st March 2019 – Poprad
- 22nd March 2019 – Myjava
- 26th March 2019 – Bratislava
- 27th March 2019 – Lučenec
- 29th March 2019 – Ružomberok
More dates are available at this website.