Google chairman Eric Schmidt visited London’s Science Museum yesterday to give a talk on "Why Science Matters," as part of the Alan Turing 100th birthday events which are taking place around the UK this year. During his speech, Schmidt mentioned how Google has been working with independent charity Teach First to train more than 100 science teachers, and also gave a major vote of confidence to projects like Raspberry Pi and Arduino by offering to provide kits as teaching aids for educators.
Up to 20,000 students in "disadvantaged communities" will benefit from this initiative, Schmidt said.
The Google executive had previously criticized the UK’s ICT curriculum back in August, saying that they were focusing on how to use software rather than how it was made. This prompted education secretary Michael Gove to incorporate programming and other tech skills into the curriculum.
Schmidt admits that revamping the curriculum is a step in the right direction but nevertheless described computer science education in the UK as still being in a "sorry state", saying it was vital to expose children to computing early on if they were going to forge a career in it. Only 2 percent of Google engineers say they weren't exposed to computer science at high school, he revealed to the audience, adding that while not every child is going to become a programmer, those with aptitude shouldn't be denied the chance.
He also drew parallels between the Raspberry Pi and the BBC Micro: "The success of the BBC Micro in the 1980s shows what's possible. There's no reason why Raspberry Pi shouldn't have the same impact, with the right support." Indeed, a lot of the concerns expressed by Schmidt are shared by the Raspberry Pi folks, and are what motivated them to try and reignite programming in schools with their $35 PC.