Promising news in European Computer Science Education

On Friday September 19th 2014 I was invited to attend an open panel discussion titled “The Need to Improve Computer Science Education in Europe” at the ACM-Europe Council Meeting in Athens, Greece. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the meeting in person, as the beginning of the school year is a very sensitive period for a second-chance learners’ school and being away for two days – it’s an 8-hour trip from my island to the capital – would upset the school program. I did however communicate with the distinguished panelists, and the chair of the panel Dame Wendy Hall offered to read out a statement I sent about Computer Science Education in Greece.

It’s no secret that the Greek government had downgraded Computer Science Education in the country’s High Schools by eliminating the rigorous course “Application Development in a Programming Environment” from the University Entry Exams, ironically in the context of a law named “New High School” that passed in September 2013. For the past year I have been advocating our issue internationally with the help of CSTA (Chris Stephenson wrote a post titled “Greece proposing giant step backward” in August 2013) and The Guardian (the popular UK newspaper published my article “Greece should be protecting coding lessons in school, not cutting them” in June). It seems that the international outcry against such a backward decision has shaken up the new Minister of Education and he has made important steps to remedy the situation: it has now been officially stated that the “New High-School law” will be amended to include Computer Programming in the Science/Technology orientation of the Entry Exams.

ACM-Europe members have eagerly embraced our cause and are following up in their efforts to ensure that the positive changes do indeed make their way to the Greek Parliament. But what’s even more exciting is their action plan for promoting CS Education in Europe:

  • The newly established Committee on European Computing Education (CECE) plans to map not only the current situations in European countries, but also the systems which develop curricula and teacher training and how to approach them.
  • A step in the direction of generating maximum influence, and which constitutes the second main goal of the CECE, is the development of a new European Computing Education conference.

ACM-Europe will be releasing a full report on the Athens meeting in due time. As CSTA’s International Representative – but also as a European Computer Science Teacher – I am enthusiastically looking forward to supporting ACM-E’s efforts and disseminating the outcome to the international Computing Education community.

Mina Theofilatou
CSTA International Representative
Kefalonia, Greece