90% of European jobs require ICT skills, and yet there will be 900’000 unfilled ICT positions in the EU by 2020. Less than 15% of European students have access in school to high-level ICT teaching. In some EU Member States, such as Greece and Croatia, fewer than half of pupils even have access to the internet at school.

Even when students have access to the right technology, there is no guarantee that they will be taught properly how to use it. In most EU countries, fewer than 30% of children aged 10-15 are taught by “digitally confident” teachers. One in four teachers in OECD countries say they do not have enough ICT training.

As part of our Debating Europe: Schools series, we’ve been taking questions from students from across Europe to policy-makers and experts for them to answer. One question that came up often was whether Europe’s education systems were equipping students with the skills they would need for the job market in 21st Century Europe.

Curious to know more about the state of computer science education in Europe? We’ve put together some facts and figures about ICT education in Europe in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).


We had a comment sent in by Stelios, a student at the Arsakeio Lykeio in Thessaloniki, Greece. He argued that digital literacy is of vital importance in the 21st Century, and he wanted to know if coding should be treated as a “survival skill” for EU students rather than an ordinary school subject. Should it be introduced as early as elementary school, just like foreign language learning?

We took Stelios’ question to Mercedes Diaz, an ICT consultant and EU CodeWeek Ambassador for Belgium, for her to respond:

To get another opinion, we also took Stelios’ comment to Steve Clement, a professional hacker and EU CodeWeek Ambassador for Luxembourg. What would he say?

Next, we had a question from Max, a student at the Katedralskolan i Åbo Gymnasium, Turku in Finland. He wanted to know what was the value of teaching computer coding in schools?

To get a response, we took his question to Bastien Guerry, a tech entrepreneur and French EU CodeWeek Ambassador:

Finally, we took Max’s question to Simon Peyton Jones, a computer scientist and British EU CodeWeek Ambassador:

Should all European students learn to code? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Waag Society

81 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    It should be taught early on. There are some classes my child takes that are completely worthless, like religion, mandatory galician language, and the adoctrinaction class known as “knowledge course” where they are indoctrinated in being good left wing liberal citizens.

    • avatar

      Make a debate
      Should EUROSTAT offer its statistics in all official languages of EU countries
      Not only in 3, it is really big fish dominating small, I am disgusited by it in so called liberal European Union

  2. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Coding? NO!
    Teach them how to evaluate a problem, how to create a program to solve it, how to pick the right algorithms, how to present the results. That is valuable for everything. And then, with it, teach them a computer coding language!
    We have plenty of coders who are bad programmers.

  3. avatar
    Trond Johannessen

    Reasoning, logic, expression in spoken languages, as well as in coding. Classical high school – latin and greek, will teach more bout reasoning and logic than any engineering school class on computer programming.

  4. avatar

    They should teach them fraud, corruption, extortion, pimping and the smuggling and selling of illegal drugs.JK

  5. avatar
    Christopher Kwadwo Svanefalk

    Teaching children how to approach, evaluate and solve problems in a structured way is much more important than teaching programming per se – anything else is just implementation details. Knowing how to “code” does not make you a good programmer, any more than knowing French makes you a good novelist.

  6. avatar
    Eleonora Petrucci

    very important I dare say, I study mechanical engineering I’m at the first year. One of the exams is high level coding with C and C++ language. The courses lasts 3 months and the books we have are def not enough to learn on time. Just the students that have some previous knowledge of the subject succeed in passing the exam in the first session. Talking about me, I’ll have to spend more money on summer courses while the faculty is closed so that in September I can pass my exam. But I’m talking about hundreds of euros

  7. avatar
    Eu CuMine

    not necessarily…what a dentist need to code? or a policeman? or a gymnast? or…

    • avatar

      what if he could ? The he/she would be able to change the way he/she is doing the job we use to know and integrate theses new IT powers to the modern IT world we live in. driverless cars, drones, remote surgery, self medication, quantified self…
      Even doctors are starting to learn code as for instance, python !

  8. avatar
    Rui Oliveira

    My statement will be short: i completely agree that digital literacy should be taught early, in the elementary school. It’s very important prepare the young generation to face the challenges of the future. Digital literacy can and must be a strong point of difference in every aspects of professional life. This point , will be for sure, a guarantee for a better future.

  9. avatar
    Christopher Kwadwo Svanefalk

    All students should learn to approach, evaluate, and solve problems in a structured way. This is the essence of programming, everything else is just implementation details. Knowing how to “code” does not make you a good programmer.

  10. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Coding? NO!
    Teach them how to think!
    Teach them how to evaluate a problem, how to create a program to solve it, how to pick the right algorithms, how to present the results. That is valuable for everything in life. Including 100% of jobs in Europe.
    And then, with it, teach them a computer coding language!
    We have plenty of coders who are bad programmers.
    ICT skills required in 90% of European jobs are not coding jobs!

  11. avatar
    Ivan Vikalo

    Basic coding yes .. The it world opens up many more times to people when people know basic coding

  12. avatar

    No, I don’t think that it is necessary. Children should enjoy their childhood as far away from technology as possible. Perhaps teach them to appreciate the natural environment.

    • avatar

      what year is it?
      ancient times?
      the natural environment is now a toxic nuclear wasteland if you look at the amount of pollution on earth
      technology is becoming so important that now almost every job that is not a mainstream one (fireman and stuff like that) requires skill in technology
      even police are using computers to get criminals
      your point is flawed

  13. avatar
    Asen Trichkov

    I think compulsory if we wanna be competitive, tehcnology will be most important part of our live

  14. avatar
    George Yiannitsiotis

    Mandatory but after basic arithmetics / mathematics been taught

  15. avatar
    Alessandro Bogliolo

    Yes! As long as we teach coding by means of playful and intuitive interactive games we help them developing computational thinking skills without sacrificing their childhood.
    Computational thinking is closely related to creativity and problem solving, which are cross-disciplinary skills.

  16. avatar
    Jimmy Hunter

    It’s not “elementary school” it’s “primary school”. Get it right

  17. avatar

    Again this is a decision for the parliaments of individual Democratic countries The EU parliament should keep its nose out of issues that do not concern them and stop interfering like an disruptive inefficient and overbearing bureaucratic nanny state

  18. avatar

    Coding Is an Important skill to learn because it requires creativity and teaches a different style of thinking. You can also combine coding with other lessons like Math to solve complex problems. Coding can also light up your School day with funny Text decryption plays ️and cool stuff to play around with. To out it in a nutshell coding in School is usefull.

  19. avatar
    Inyange Lisa Yvette

    ofcourse yes because if computer science is taught from childhood, students will grow with more experience and from that experience it will be easy for them to come up with innovations in technology which will make them more developed

  20. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Problem solving, reasoning, algorithm development, YES.
    Coding can be learned afterwards. Coding as such is not what children need to learn.

  21. avatar
    Pavlos Gavrielides

    I think that children should make this choice, not parents. As languages of everyday use are taught in order for people to communicate with each other, computer programming languages are used almost exclusively for marketing purposes (such as find a job etc) I wouldn’t want tokae my kid learn something that doesn’t contribute it with connecting rather than competing with other people. Just saying

  22. avatar
    Alessandro Santini

    Agree with Breogn, although I think that the perceived need for early coding skills is a bit overrated today. More than happy to see boolean algebra and predicate logic in school, however – given this increasingly digital world, I would put a bit of emphasis on craftsmanship – this is something that we will really suffer shortage of very soon.

  23. avatar
    Jaime Martins

    The school curricula should be adapted wisely, decide what is really necessary and useful in teaching in all schools in Europe.

  24. avatar
    Astrit Disha

    No. Don’t make children more reliable on Tec than we are. They need wisdom more than coding…

  25. avatar
    Salvius Vesuvino

    Noooooo, teach first the kids for play, let them be childs first. This question has no sense at all for me.

  26. avatar
    Gianvito Capone

    No, this isn’t the right way. Why waste time teaching something most people are never even going to try? Elementary schools should provide the basics, and leave more specific areas to specific choices later on.

  27. avatar
    Gianvito Capone

    I agree that we need students to develop logic, reason and problem solving skills, but there’s no need to introduce such a high level and specific subject like coding for that. That’s the same argument we constantly hear in italy about teaching ancient latin. A much better solution would be to just increase to introduce more Maths and Physics.

  28. avatar
    Harald Heidegger

    In ancient times (up to 2000) it was simply necessary to develop coding skills. Today you are not even allowed to code.

  29. avatar
    Spyros Vrettos

    Yes. We could also design a common European computer language to be used for this purpose.

  30. avatar
    Rui Marcos

    Yup! Specially in Portugal. But did the education ministry did? End the TIC classes for the kids… (Super clever…)

  31. avatar
    TJ Todorov

    No. The IT are just a tool, don’t make it the base, the essential of everything.

  32. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Yes I agree new teachinig methods is a valuable contribuition to European citizenship

  33. avatar
    Ivan Čorak

    We had coding classes from 5th grade onward and i think that, out of 30 kids only one became an IT technician and i guarantee that no more than perhaps 2-3 (and that is quite generous estimation mind you) actually code today. Better teach home management and such.

  34. avatar
    Alexandre Graça

    The extent of knowledge is growing at such an alarming rate that very soon the ‘basic need’ of every normal kid will only be met by implanting computer chips on their brains. I’d say yes, but sparingly…

  35. avatar
    Julia Schulze

    I am currently in 11th grade and I am starting to learn computer coding on my own since my school doesn’t offer any courses similar to the subject or about computer science. Obviously not everyone will be interested in computer science but it will definitely be helpful for the further life of children especially if they want to go into business or marketing. But instead of having a computer science or coding class as required an elective class would be a good idea and if we would figure out that no one takes the chance the class could be required for a year and if it is absolutely no the subject someone wants to take or they are struggling bad, they could drop the class but we should take every step necessary to get more people into computer science, especially girls because this knowledge just had benefits.

  36. avatar
    Penaline Chepkoech

    Found it interesting

  37. avatar
    Nice boy

    Yes we have to learn about coding. Because we can grow thinking skill without any extra times. Also if you want be programmer or just related in coding, you can easily learn about coding.

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