Programming our way to success in tomorrow’s society

By Erick Arzate
Chicago, Ill.

According to NewsMedia Trend Watch, an average 18- and 19-year-old American spends more than 40 hours per week online, about the time commitment of a typical full-time job. In addition, by the year 2014 more than 77 percent of the world’s population will be active Internet users.

These numbers demand our attention. In today’s society, everyone depends on computers for nearly every facet of his or her life. Yet the average American has no idea how a computer works. Only 10 percent of schools even offer computer science courses—something that has to change if we are to meet the demands of tomorrow’s economy.

In February, Code.org released a video that embraced the idea that everyone should learn how to code. Featuring spokespeople from all walks of life—from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, will.i.am to Chris Bosh—the video received over 10.5 million views.

The founder of Code.org wrote in USA Today that while only 2 percent of our students today learn to code, tripling that percentage could add $500 billion to the economy.

Of course, not every school will be able to offer these courses because of a lack of funding. Over the past 60 years, local funding for schools has decreased by 25 percent, according to the Federal Education Budget Project.

But if we invest in computer education, it will generate a positive impact on our economy over the long run. This worthwhile investment will ensure that our nation stays competitive and continues to be a leader in science and innovation for generations to come.

In Code.org’s viral video, the site promoted its free online program to help students learn to code. There are also volunteer programs like Computers for Classroom, which has been donating computers to schools since 1991.

Through such programs, we can work toward a world where all of humanity is actually knowledgeable about the devices that their lives revolve around, and where technology is an industry that anyone can get involved in.

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