E-Learning Expert Calls for Computer Science in Schools
February 6, 2012
In a technology driven age, Computer Science has become a fundamental field of study that drives the world, yet in The Bahamas, it remains an unchartered subject in school curriculums. Now, an e-learning specialist who has just returned from leading a seminar of international experts says it’s time to wake up and smell the future.
“The study of Computer Science is just as important as Mathematics and English,” said John Bain, the Principal of JSB & Associates and Chairman of the e-Learning Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. “The study of computer science is not a luxury, and should not be an elective, but an integral part of education. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology.”
Bain, a Chartered Forensic Accountant and one of the first 40 individuals worldwide to become a Certified Specialist in Asset Recovery (CSAR,) employs the use of Computer Science skills daily in his profession. Bain assists attorneys, individuals and companies involved in civil litigation matters that involve disputes over shares, partnerships, debt or other financial issues.
If Bain could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas it would be to make Computer Science a mandatory subject in the curriculum.
“We are not preparing our children for tomorrow’s world,” he said. “The schools are not required to teach Computer Science, but ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) – a strange hybrid of desktop publishing lessons and Microsoft Office tutorials. While Microsoft Word and Excel are useful vocational skills and are suitable for office work, they are never going to equip anybody for a career in video games (gamification) or visual effects.”
Bain, the winner of the 2007 ACCA Achievement Award for the Americas is not alone in his position that Computer Science is a necessary subject for junior and high-school students. With lucrative industries such as Interactive Entertainment, a $3.1bn industry in the UK alone, heavily reliant on professionals skilled in computer science, the pendulum is swinging in favour of making this subject mandatory in junior and high school curriculums in developed nations worldwide. Industries necessary for developed nations to survive such as Aerospace & Defence, Chemical & Pharmaceutical and the Automobile industry all make use of super computers and skilled computer scientists.
In the UK, Education Secretary Michael Gove in a January 2012 speech to BETT, an educational technology trade fair, admitted that the office skills covered in ICT courses currently taught in British schools are out of date. “Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum,” stated Gove. “Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch.”
In the US, Google sponsors CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) an annual program launched to promote Computer Science high school and middle school curriculum. Google’s Education Group offers grants to universities who in turn develop 2-3 day workshops for high school Computer Science teachers. Grants are currently offered in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Strong Computer Science skills are necessary to develop the future designers, creators, and inventors of new technology. According to Bain, “computer science is not a luxury; it is essential knowledge for the 21st century.”