Coding Comes to Schools in Finland and South Korea

In this short blog post, two students of media education compare basic education curricula of South Korea and Finland, and take a look at the similarities and differences in the ways coding is integrated in the recently reformed curricula. The publication ”Coding in Schools: Comparing Integration of Programming into Basic Education Curricula of Finland and South Korea” can be read here.

Coding is one of the most important skills that you can acquire today, and a critical skill for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, said Marc Benioff in a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum 2016.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to the idea of an era in which technology, such as artificial intelligence or robotics, is blurring the lines of physical, digital and biological spheres. Having the potential to create services, products and businesses never seen before, it may significantly affect our future lives, including job markets. In fact, it has been forecasted that a sizable proportion of current occupations will eventually be computerized and automated. So, nations, along with international organizations (such as European Union), are feverishly preparing to meet the challenges as well as welcome the possibilities of the new era.

Both Finland and South Korea have chosen to integrate programming into their basic education curricula. The students in Korea will learn software education 17 hours per year from 2018 as a practical course called software education. In Finland, on the other hand, students learn programming integrated both in subject studies of math and craft, but also within a transversal ICT competence education, encompassing the whole curriculum.

Finland and Korea seem to be, as a whole, sharing very similar objectives in terms of teaching programming and ICT skills. Both countries have proceeded to integrate programming in their national school curricula as a mandatory subject via profound curriculum changes in recent years. In addition, the goal of teaching programming is the same: to increase students’ ICT competence, empowering them to actively participate in the future societies.

There are also differences in how the countries approach integrating programming in the school curricula. Finland has chosen a rather holistic approach by integrating programming as a transversal ICT competence, basically covering all subjects, accompanied by compulsory subject studies (math and craft) with detailed, subject-specific learning objectives. In Korea, on the other hand, software education is taught as a specific course, emphasizing the independent status of the subject. The objectives of software education tend to emphasize how to utilize various softwares or how to do programming, but don’t specifically encourage it as the method for learning other subjects, such as math or science.

Read ”Coding in Schools: Comparing Integration of Programming into Basic Education Curricula of Finland and South Korea” here.

Katri Schroderus
Student at University of Lapland and University of Helsinki.
Worked as an intern at the Finnish Society on Media Education.

Sei Kwon
Master’s student in Media Education at the University of Tampere.
Worked as an intern for the project Nuoret Estradille. Participated SomeJam Tampere 2016 as a steering member who was responsible for social media and advertisement.



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