Gov’t plan boosts role of software in education

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Gov’t plan boosts role of software in education

The government yesterday announced policy measures intended to more fully integrate software into the daily lives of Koreans, including making it a mandatory subject in selected middle schools starting next year.

“Korea is the world’s No. 1 smartphone exporter, and how much Korean software do you think is used inside those smartphones?” Choi Yang-hee, minister of science, ICT and future planning, asked reporters at a briefing by government ministries and private IT companies yesterday in Pangyo Techno Valley, Gyeonggi. “Statistically, it is zero so far, even though the true competitiveness in a smartphone comes down to advanced software.”

The Education Ministry said seventh graders next year will have basic knowledge of software programs included in their at 72 elementary schools.

The government will select these software education model schools in the second half of the year and expand to at least 130 schools the following year.

“Nowadays, the significance of software programs applies to all of the products and industries around us,” said Choi. “That is what the Korean government is trying to invest in, to eventually create our own value-added, advanced software.”

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korean manufacturers spend more than half of their product development costs to buy the rights to foreign-developed software. Such costs accounted for about 54 percent of the cost of developing home appliances, 53 percent for mobile devices, 52 percent for cars and 46 percent for medical equipment and facilities.

Samsung Electronics executives attended the briefing, saying software will be the conglomerate’s “new nature and future” and emphasizing the significance of the government’s initiative to develop the software industry and foster talent.

For high school students, the Education Ministry will cut the number of prerequisite courses required in a bid to increase the size of software classes. In the classes, students will learn how to program code and build their own programs. The ministry will start training teachers in September and open a software meister high school next year in Daejeon.

While raising interest among younger students and exposing them to information about software, the government will expand financial support to universities with software majors to push them to produce quality developers by building curriculum that emphasizes hands-on activities.

It also will encourage universities to operate interdisciplinary programs that integrate conventional majors and software engineering as part of efforts to foster talented graduates who can produce software based on professional knowledge and creative business ideas.

The Industry Ministry said it will expand investment to develop embedded software programs that can be applied in projects such as building unmanned factories and developing next-generation export items like driverless cars, smart vessels, wearable devices, drones and 3-D printers, which the government hopes will outperform manufacturing giants like China.

The ministry also hopes to expand the use of locally produced software in engineering by facilitating entrance to the market by software companies and producing 2,000 software professionals with advanced academic degrees by 2020.

To encourage software developers, the Culture Ministry said it will implement a software escrow policy to enable small businesses to legally use software at lower prices to protect developers’ intellectual properties and help them secure a stable source of income. The ministry also hopes to cut the nation’s software piracy rate in half by 2020.

BY kim ji-yoon [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]





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