Google chairman pledges to fund Raspberry Pi availability in U.K. schools

Schmidt follows up criticism of British computing education with promise of aid

Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced this week at the London Science Museum that his company would fund the U.K. charity Teach First, which will provide teacher training and student equipment, including the Raspberry Pi, for the purpose of improving computing education in the country.

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"It's vital to expose kids to this early if they're to have the chance of a career in computing. Only 2% of Google engineers say they weren't exposed to computer science at high school. While not every child is going to become a programmer, those with aptitude shouldn't be denied the chance," he said, according to the BBC.

Google's chairman said that a recent curriculum shakeup was a step in the right direction, but he urged the British government to go further. To help, he said, Google would provide educational equipment - mentioning the Raspberry Pi by name - as well as fund a six-week training course in technology for promising teachers. Raspberry Pi computers are credit card-size devices designed to serve as teaching aids.

Last August, Schmidt criticized the U.K.'s computer science curriculum, saying that the country had relinquished its leadership role in the development of the technology.

"The U.K. is the home of so many media-related inventions. You invented photography. You invented TV, yet today, none of the world's leading exponents in these fields are from the UK," the Google chairman told the audience at an Edinburgh lecture.

In an official blog post, the Raspberry Pi Foundation professed its delight at the news, and praised Google for its "very non-evil drive to improve science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) provision in schools."

The foundation, from its inception, has been focused on education - the Raspberry Pi itself was first conceived of as a cheap and easily distributed device that could be used as an introductory tool for budding programmers.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold

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