Craig Federighi
Apple senior vice president, Software Engineering, Craig FederighiStephen Lam/Reuters

Teaching coding to young children is "the next level of literacy", Apple's senior vice president of software Craig Federighi has said. Speaking about the educational initiative called the Hour of Code project, he said: "Programming should be seen as a language and a way of thinking."

Federighi told the BBC: "These devices are so much a part of our lives, we have a computer in some form wherever we go, that the ability to create in that medium is as fundamental as the ability to write."

The project looks to teach coding to children above the age of six in 180 countries and for this the company will be utilising its 468 stores.

Federighi said: "That first moment of realising I could enter some commands in a computer and make it do something was a revelation. People sometimes have a view of programming that is something solitary and very technical. But programming is among the most creative, expressive and social careers. It's an incredibly creative medium, not unlike music, and there's a tremendous cross-over between people who programme and musicians."

He rejected the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) report that said there was no evidence to show that technology has benefited children's education.

He said: "There's no question in my mind of the value in technology in fuelling young minds. Like any other tool, if you simply throw it in the classroom, and don't consider how best to take advantage of that tool, and you try the old ways with a new piece of technology on the desk, it's no panacea. But the potential of the technology when well applied is phenomenal."

The project is being backed by technology firms such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon. It also has the backing of US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.