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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-09-10 10:52:12
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Estonia Reprograms First Graders as Web Coders

Public schools in Estonia will soon have a curriculum for teaching web and mobile application development to students as early as first grade. According to an article, the program begins this month with training for primary-school teachers. This will be followed by pilot programs. Eventually, the curriculum will be available to all public schools, with educational materials for all levels from grades 1 through 12. Although nationwide standards for teaching programming in elementary schools is ambitious, there’s no indication that the courses will be mandatory. According to UbuntuLife, the program was created because of the difficulty Estonian companies face in hiring programmers. Estonia has a burgeoning tech industry thanks in part to the success of Skype, which was developed in Estonia in 2003. Other Estonian tech companies include Erply and Fortumo.

This Estonian program isn’t the only one trying to reach kids with programming at a younger age. Educators have long sought to teach younger kids to program using tools like Scratch, but the code-literacy movement has been picking up steam in the past year. For example, the Mozilla Foundation has been sponsoring events dedicated to teaching web development to youth called Summer Code Party, as well as “Hack Jams” organized by youth. Back in May, Mozilla executive director Mark Surman told Wired that kids start deciding whether to be content makers or mere consumers sometime around the age of 8 to 10 years old. “If we want kids to be makers rather than consumers (our goal), this is a critical age,” he said. To this end, Mozilla has developed Hackasaurus, a collection of tools that help kids learn how websites are composed and designed by letting them “remix” elements of any site.

And of course there’s Lauren Ipsum, a children’s book that introduces programming concepts through stories rather than code. The book is intended for kids who are old enough to read, but the stories can be understood by children as young as five.
This is all part of a larger code-literacy movement, which seeks to teach everyone, not just school kids, to code. It’s a controversial idea. For example, StackOverflow co-founder Jeff Atwood has been outspoken in his opposition to universal teaching of programming. “Look, I love programming. I also believe programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills,” he wrote on his blog in May. “I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing.”


Estonian doctors plan to strike in October to help stem outflow

Estonian doctors called a strike for next month after attempts to negotiate wage increases with the government and employers failed. The main goal of the work stoppage is to prevent doctors and nurses from emigrating, the doctors’ union said in an e- mailed statement today. The duration of the strike hasn’t been decided.

About a quarter of Estonia’s 4,000 specialized doctors are above pension age, and more than a third of all physicians are considering working abroad, the union said in June. Doctors in the North Estonia Medical Centre, the country’s biggest hospital, earn an average monthly wage of 2,296 Euros ($2,893), compared with the national average of 900 Euros, while they exceed nominal workloads by 43 percent on average, the hospital said.


No trial as Estonian military accused of making Russian cadets dig own graves

The Estonian Prosecutor's Office has announced it will not launch a criminal trial over claims of shocking harassment in the military, when two ethnically Russian conscripts were allegedly made to dig their own graves. The case went public on Thursday when several Estonian newspapers reported that the country's Defence Ministry was looking into a report of officers hazing the two young brothers.

On August 13 in the military field camp Myanniku, several officers made the Russian cadets to take a series of personal training exercises which ended with digging their own graves in the forest at night. “They said that if we go missing nobody will cry for us. That we will be sent home in body bags, and because we have firearms with us, it will look like defection,” one of the victims said.

The names of the brothers have not been disclosed. The only thing which reported was that they are the sons of a wealthy Russian businessman. Meanwhile, the accused officers deny any such intimidation tactics, saying the soldiers were just performing a regular night time exercise of digging trenches. Estonia's Prosecutor’s Office seems to buy into that version, as on Friday it announced that the case contains no criminal elements and thus no trial will be initiated.

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