When it comes to technology advancement in Estonia, the message to the rest is “catch us if you can”. This was demonstrated where it was one of the first countries to have a government that was fully e-enabled as well as introducing Skype. In a bid to keep up with its neighbor country, Finland is also following into the footsteps of Estonia.
In a bid to cement their status as technology advancement favorites, Estonia recently introduced a computer coding program called ProgeTiiger in schools that is advised by a Finnish IT company called Tieto. The small country wants to introduce coding to school kids at a very early age, and according to Parmy Olson of Forbes, the project is already underway as 20 schools have been earmarked to take part in the pilot program.
“In Estonia, kids are walking around with Pampers and iPads, so we see that there has to be some logical movement with tech,” says Lauringson, who acts as project manager for ProgeTiiger.
However, Lauringson is well aware that it may sound absurd for a nationwide school system to teach kids about coding at such a young an age.
“It’s a unique project. [Other countries] want to start programming in secondary school, but they don’t dare to start in the first grade,” she said.
“We want to change thinking that computers and programs are just things as they are. There is an opportunity to create something, and be a smart user of technology,” she added.
Finland’s Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Alexander Stubb, is adamant that the nation will not be left behind as he said that teaching basic programming skills to young kids in the classroom is on the country’s radar; a move that could potentially be termed as following Estonia’s footsteps to introduce coding to young school kids.
“It would be a great idea to have coding as a voluntary or otherwise subject in school,” Alexander said. “Kids today are growing up as natives to technology, and the sooner they get going, the better. It starts with games and familiarizing themselves with gadgets, and coding is a big part of that.”
This is an effort to encourage the development of tech skills at an early age rather than putting pressure on first graders to produce apps.
“We have a strong education system and rank among the top countries in both primary and secondary education, and we’re always looking for new ways to innovate,” Alexander said. “Bringing coding to students is something we are very aware of, but it would probably take awhile to get it up and running.”
According to Samantha Murphy Kelly of Mashable, when it comes to mobile gaming, Finland is emerging as one of the hottest new startup hubs in the world. This is down to the success of Rovio and Angry Birds empires as well as newcomer Supercell which has two of the most popular iOS games: Hay Day and Clash of Clans. This has led to Finland attracting tech talent from all over Europe looking to set up shop in its capital city.