Americans think of Asia when it comes to getting our butts whipped in tech education, but here comes a new challenger. First graders over in the tiny European country of Estonia will soon prep to become the computer programmers of tomorrow, while most American children enter a flagging school system.
With a population that's about half the size of Brooklyn in New York, Estonia is really small. That's a problem, actually. With a rapidly expanding tech industry, finding talented Estonian programmers has become a real challenge. The solution is a new school curriculum called ProgeTiiger, or Programming Tiger, which involves teaching all public school kids how to write code beginning in the first grade.
ProgeTiiger is actually just the latest component of a long tern project called Tiigrihüpe or Tiger's Leap, which was set up in the 1990s to expand Internet access and IT opportunities for all Estonians. Clearly their master plan has been working. Despite its small size, Estonia was the birthplace of several major tech startups including Skype and Kazaa.
This year ProgeTiiger is being rolled out in a few charter schools for evaluation, but the Tiigrihüpe Foundation says the curriculum will be available to all schools starting next year.