The following post is from Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft.
Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an important moment for everyone, especially youth, to learn how the ability to code can open doors to future careers in unexpected ways. One of the activities I am most excited about is the “Hour of Code” campaign. In partnership with Code.org and other leading tech companies, Microsoft is encouraging 10 million students of all ages to spend an hour this week learning basic coding skills, while hopefully having some fun in the process.
Among many activities to help get kids started this week, everyone is invited to join us at a Microsoft store where employees will be offering free coding lessons on Kodu Game Lab and TouchDevelop. We’re also partnering on and hosting various other coding events across the country from Washington, D.C. to Silicon Valley.
Right now, less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, yet computer programming jobs are growing at twice the national average and are among the top paying fields. So why aren’t more students jumping at the opportunity to learn the skills that will lead to great jobs? We’ve found that one of the biggest barriers is simply access to computer science classes.
Of the 42,000 high schools in the U.S., just over 3,000 offer Advanced Placement computer science classes. One of the reasons is the lack of qualified teachers. However, another factor is the fact that only 14 states and our nation’s capital count computer science toward core high school math or science credits required for graduation. To further strengthen access to computer science education, Microsoft is working with state and local education officials to advocate for allowing computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements.
As part of the company’s YouthSpark initiative, we run a program called TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), which pairs computer engineers from Microsoft and other tech companies with full-time high school teachers to teach basic and advanced computer science. This school year, the TEALS program is in 70 schools in 12 states, reaching more than 3,300 students with the support of 280 volunteers. It keeps expanding year over year, and it’s clear that students and teachers are eager to learn how to code.
But one company or organization can’t address the need on its own. The good news is that many are collaborating on creative ideas to get kids excited about coding, and to shift public policy related to computer science education so everyone who wants to study it has the option.
This is why initiatives like the “Hour of Code” are so important, and why we are proud to lend our support. One hour is all it takes for a student to get excited about a new hobby or envision a future career. If 10 million students spend an hour coding during CSEdWeek, just imagine what new companies, jobs and ideas they could bring to life.