Pope Francis encourages more children to code, especially in Catholic countries

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A Polish tech entrepreneur’s global project, aimed at getting more children into computer programming, has been endorsed by Pope Francis.

Miron Mironiuk, founder of artificial intelligence company Cosmose AI, is drawing on his own experience of coding transforming his life.

He said the “Code with Pope” initiative would bridge “the glaring disparities in education” across the globe.

It is hoped the Pope’s involvement will attract Catholic countries.

“We believe that the involvement of the Pope will help to convince them to spend some time and use this opportunity to learn programming for free,” Mr Mironiuk told the BBC.

The initiative will champion access to coding education through a free online learning platform for students aged 11-15 across Europe, Africa and Latin America.

After 60 hours of dedicated learning, children will be equipped with the basics of Python, one of the world’s most popular coding languages.

In the digital age, programming skills have become as fundamental as reading and writing.

World Economic Forum data released in 2023 revealed that “the majority of the fastest growing roles are technology-related roles”.

However, a severe global shortage of tech skills threatens to leave 85 million job positions unfilled by 2030.

As a result, increasing access to high-quality programming education has become a necessity, particularly in low and middle-income countries – many of which are Catholic.

A large percentage of the Polish population identifies as Catholic.

The 33-year-old millionaire Mr Mironiuk told the BBC that he was proud of his Polish heritage and to be part of a crop of successful Polish people working in technology.

The country is making significant strides in the tech scene, particularly in AI, with companies like Google Brain, Cosmose AI and Open AI having significant numbers of Polish employees.

But Mr Mironiuk is also aware that many countries are not as fortunate, and hopes this educational programme could help change that.

The programme will be available in Spanish, English, Italian and Polish. It is expected to reach children all over South America except Brazil, and in English speaking nations in Africa and South East Asia.

This is not the first time the Pope has encouraged young people to get into coding, having helped write a line of code for a UN initiative in 2019.

Mr Mironiuk will meet the Pope at the Vatican. But he admits he’s not anticipating the pontiff to emulate his students in acquiring new skills.

“I don’t expect him to know Python very well, at least,” he said. “But he will get a certificate for his efforts in helping start the programme.”

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