Talent growth
Kaunas IN
2021 05 31
A dynamic space for IT discoveries for Kaunas school children

Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) School of Young Computer Scientists, which has been operating for a quarter of a century, annually invites more than 400 students who want to learn about and get acquainted with the broad and diverse world of IT. The prestigious award-winning school programs not only provide real programming or systems management skills but also help children decide when the time comes to choose university studies. And cooperation with Kaunas business helps to remain relevant and urgently react to the needs and challenges of the changing world.

Approximately 10,000 children have graduated from the KTU School of Young Computer Scientists founded in 1995. In recent years, more than 400 students have joined this school each fall. They start acquiring knowledge from expert teachers, university lecturers, and representatives of the business sector from the very first lectures.

As the head of the school Dr. Danguolė Rutkauskienė says, the fact that the school has survived and grown for so many years, testifies to the quality of its activities, “Longevity and experience are the most valued features in the 21st century. It is also evidenced by our partnerships and prestigious awards. We have signed an agreement with the organizers of the Ventspils IT Challenge international competition, and a few years ago, after the WITSA studies were carried out throughout the world, School of Young Computer Scientists was recognized as one of the best non-formal education institutions for European students.”

The school currently invites students to participate in as many as 20 programs. Interestingly, when developing them, specialists from School of Young Computer Scientists follow the principle of continuity. They want the student to be able to attend the program every year, even for ten years, and continue to acquire new IT skills by growing together with the expanding and changing market.

Modular programming (Python, C++, C#) courses are the most popular. In recent years, a growing trend has been noticed, where schoolchildren often choose a website development course, which is relevant to young people due to the rapidly growing blogs, online stores, influencers – all the activities require website development skills.

KTU School of Young Computer Scientists is not just a school. It is a place where one learns what cannot be included in the program: teamwork, the ability to learn independently and, most importantly, that while studying here, students meet like-minded people with whom they establish close ties for a long time,” D. Rutkauskienė says.

Therefore, the school is known as a safe and acceptable space for trying yourself out in IT. When asked if there are kids who, after trying out and learning more about IT, later choose different studies, the head of the school points out that not all students necessarily go on to study IT in universities. However, the percentage of those who do not choose IT-related studies is very low, “We joke that those students who have had the taste of university and lecturers’ discipline, do not want to let them go, so when the time comes to choose the studies, they do not hesitate for long.”

Especially since the knowledge gained in School of Young Computer Scientists helps both during the final exams and when entering the desired IT study program in university. For example, in 2019, KTU School of Young Computer Scientists students’ average grade in state IT exam was 89 points, and 27 percent of respondents received the maximum of 100 points.

School of Young Computer Scientists contributes directly to the discovery and training of the future IT talents that are needed by the city as well as the country. Information and communication technology (ICT) sector is identified as one of the priority sectors in the city’s strategy. There are more than 600 registered ICT organizations in Kaunas, and they mostly focus on the export of services and the development and production of telecommunication components.

Partnership with business helps to get a sense of what’s relevant today

The school’s cooperation with various IT companies and their employees, trips to the companies’ offices for students and teachers help to expand the knowledge. The school’s events are sponsored by companies such as Microsoft, Telia, Teltonika or Devbridge, which contribute not only with inaugural prizes but also by developing student’s competencies, willingly welcoming them to their offices. IT market players also provide valuable insights on how to change or supplement the curriculum. For example, as the need for soft skills began to emerge in the job market, the school began to integrate these skills into its curricula, competitions, and camps.

The fact that the school is a part of the largest technological university in Lithuania (it takes into account the latest KTU study programs and professors’ requirements) helps it to dynamically adjust its study programs. It is quite natural that each year as many as 90% of students who graduate from KTU School of Young Computer Scientists choose studies nowhere else but in KTU. It is easy for them to adapt to the university environment, and they do not have any problems with professors’ requirements. After all, they already know most of the teachers from the courses that they attended at school.

“The graduates of KTU School of Young Computer Scientists are winners of various competitions, advanced students of higher education institutions, excellent specialists, and managers of successful companies. We value and love each of our students, we keep in touch with both graduates and current students, taking into account their needs and suggestions so that we can continue to ensure good quality and innovative learning,” the head of the school says.

Recent developments include distance learning programs dictated by pandemic restrictions. As the experience of the School of Young Computer Scientists has shown, both pupils and teachers have switched to distance learning relatively easily, and the new format opened the way for pupils from other cities or remote rural areas to join the school in order to gain access to high-quality knowledge and education that will be extremely useful in their future.

Source: JKM photo.

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