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Coding as important as reading, writing says children and MPs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017 Karen Sweeney

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Coding is as important as reading and writing for children of the future says a 12-year-old pro who stunned politicians with her skills in a tutoring session at Parliament.

Amelia Lockley got into coding three years ago and says it's a skill everybody should have.

She is part of one of almost 300 Code Clubs around the country that are teaching up to 10,000 children the skill that is a staple of the information technology industry.

Amelia is working on an app to help immigrants find essential services including schools and banks when they first arrive in New Zealand, but she's hoping to forge a career as a mechatronic engineer.

"I think everybody should learn it and have the opportunity to learn it because coding and technology is in our everyday lives already and it'll become more and more advanced and more widely used in the near future," she told NZ Newswire.

MPs agree with her.

United Future leader Peter Dunne hosted the tutoring workshop to show his colleagues what some "remarkably talented" young people are capable of.

"The next challenge will be how we mainstream this so that it's not just an activity you're doing once a week because you want to but that it's an activity that's core to your learning," he said.

Eventually he hopes it becomes part of the formal school curriculum.

"I accept that there are huge practical issues around that ... but I think this is really going to be as essential as learning to read and write was when I was at school," Mr Dunne told NZN.

National MP Brett Hudson spent 20 years working in IT before he joined Parliament and was amazed that the skills of some children were beyond what even he could do.

He sat down with Jack Marshall who in just 20 minutes created two levels of a computer game.

Mr Hudson said the benefits of coding went beyond the obvious.

"It's actually, I think, some layers of thought that aren't even just coding or technology but just thinking about cause and effect and if I'm designing something - what's my start, what's my finish and what are all the key conditions on the way through," he said.

Last month Green MP Gareth Hughes hosted a similar event at Parliament to showcase opportunities in the video gaming industry.

Code Clubs currently operate around New Zealand for children aged nine to 12.

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