Getting MEPs ready for EU Code Week

We live in an increasingly digital age. To thrive and succeed, all Europeans, particularly the young, need new skills, resources and training in the area of computer science. European policymakers have an essential role to play in advancing awareness of the value of digital skills and ensuring education systems focus on developing them. But they cannot do this without experiencing the transformative power of technology for themselves.

Today, the #EUDojo event gave Members of the European Parliament the opportunity to prepare for this year’s EU Code Week. Hosted by MEP Seán Kelly and run by CoderDojo, the global movement of free, volunteer-led coding clubs for young people, this annual event brought 40 young coders to Brussels to teach MEPs a crucial European language: code.

The #EUDojo was a fantastic example of the power of “reverse mentoring”. The tables were turned in the Parliament’s hemicycle, with some of Europe’s youngest citizens taking on the mantle of resident experts. But all of these young coders needed support from CoderDojo to get to the point of passing their learning on to others.

Most European policymakers and national influencers already recognize the importance of building appropriate support frameworks to establish computer science as a curriculum cornerstone. The need for code-literate workers is growing and ICT professionals are in demand in almost every walk of life.

However, progress has been uneven and computer science is still thought of as a niche subject in most of Europe’s schools. We know that education reform takes time. But the current generation of students cannot afford to wait.

This is where informal learning environments such as CoderDojo play a vital role. They bridge the gap for current students, as well as providing additional support in countries where computer science curricula are new and teachers’ ability to deliver these curricula is still developing. CoderDojo is a volunteer-led network, with a focus on peer-learning. This means that young coders quickly become mentors themselves – whether for a fellow student or an MEP!

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We recognize that the technology industry must play its part in increasing Europe’s digital literacy. That’s why Microsoft, alongside other industry players, supported the #EUDojo today. In addition we are proud to be partnering with CoderDojo to benefit up to 28,560 young people across Europe with coding training. This will be achieved by setting up new Dojos and by doubling the number of champions and mentors.

Our support for CoderDojo is part of our broader YouthSpark commitment to increasing access to computer science education for all youth worldwide – our CEO Satya Nadella recently announced an expansion of the program equating to $75 million over the next three years. This December, we will also be supporting the global Hour of Code.

Speaking at the #EUDojo, MEP Seán Kelly called for European policymakers and industry representatives to join the CoderDojo movement by pledging to start at least one Dojo each. We fully support this. Together, small gestures can make a big difference – and Europe’s future generations can get a head start with the right skills for success.

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Alexa Joyce
Director, Education Policy, Teaching & Learning

As Director, Education System Leaders at Microsoft Corp, Alexa Joyce supports national and regional governments and other education bodies in transforming education. She has worked in more than 60 countries across the globe in re-designing national and regional strategies for education transformation, including policy models, teacher training and IT infrastructure for schools. Prior to joining Microsoft, Alexa worked with European Schoolnet (a network of 30 Ministries of Education in Europe), UNESCO and OECD.