US President Barack Obama is to petition Congress for over $4bn (£2.8bn) to reboot technology education for youngsters in the country. The initiative is aimed at ensuring that all youngsters get equal opportunities to pursue studies in the field of computer science.
"Computer Science for all" is a three-year drive which would help boost technology education in all states by ensuring that teachers are provided with additional training, better equip classrooms with updated computer systems and develop new classroom materials. The programme is part of Obama's 2017 budget, but will require approval and financial backing from Congress before it can be implemented.
In his weekly radio discourse, the US president said: "We have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future – which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy." He pointed out that in the current economic structure, computer science is no longer "an optional skill", going on to state that "9 out of 10 parents" have expressed the desire that their kids be taught computer science in public and private schools across the country.
Megan Smith, the White House's chief technology adviser said: "It's not just working with computers, but developing the computational thinking, and analytical coding skills." Pending Congressional approval, the programme intends to make changes at the grass roots-level education within the system. Children as young as pre-schoolers will also begin training in computer sciences, should the programme be implemented. The Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Science Foundation would also chip in by reserving funds for teacher training programmes.
Obama's initiative has won support from tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook, both of which have publicly lauded the venture. Microsoft President Brad Smith has pledged $75m to the programme to help expand its reach, according to a USA Today report. The "Computer Science for all" programme will officially be unveiled on 9 February.