The demand for IT specialists is growing not only in Latvia, but also in other parts of Europe and the world, however, only 3.8% of the population of working age works in the IT field. In order to increase the number of future IT specialists in Latvia, it is important to ensure that computer subjects, including programming, are taught in schools from the first grade. This includes not only the creation of teaching materials, but also the training of teachers to promote the teaching staff's understanding of what the learning process will look like in the future.
Objectives of the IT Education Foundation:
Start(IT) is the first social educational project of the IT Education Foundation, which aims to develop the digital skills of pupils and students, giving everyone the opportunity to learn the basics of computing and programming for free. Computer science curricula and materials are available on this portal, which in 2015, in cooperation with the State Education Content Center (VISC), were approved in 153 Latvian schools.
From 2020 to 2023, all Latvian schools will gradually introduce the improved learning content and approach, which was worked on by the State Education Content Center (VISC) project "Competence approach to learning content" (School2030). The insights and examples obtained in the approbation of the computer science content created by Start(IT) have been taken as a basis for developing the new computer science subject, which will be one of the subjects in the field of technology and will be taught in all schools from the first grade.
A pilot project was launched within Start(IT) in 2023, where in cooperation with Accenture Baltics, technology professionals went to 15 Riga secondary schools to tell 9th - 12th grade students about their experience working in the IT field and what qualities and professional skills are necessary to be able to deal with technology both as a hobby and professionally, building a career in various industries. Through the experiences of the professionals, the goal was to promote interest of 9th and 10th grade students to choose STEAM-related in-depth courses in high school. 11th and 12th grade students were informed about study programs in Latvia, which are related to technology and exact sciences.
The BITS (Baltic IT Society) project was created to attract the most capable students from abroad to the best IT study programs in Latvia. The goal of the project is to ensure the number of ICT graduates per year corresponding to the Latvian labor market, as well as to increase the quality and competitiveness of studies globally.
The third project of the IT Education Foundation, Start(Design), was created with the aim of providing everyone with the opportunity to learn design thinking through self-learning, which has become one of the most popular work methodologies in leading ICT companies in Latvia and the world.