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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign Schools Boost Computer Use

With the new school year getting under way, thousands more fingers are now tapping away on keyboards in Moscow, as a number of the city's foreign schools firmly shift their syllabi into the computer age.

This term sees the introduction of new computer facilities and courses at many of the schools serving the foreign community. But as well as improving the range available, schools are lowering the age at which children are introduced to simple computing tasks, officials said.

While pupils in the 12- to 18-year-old bracket will be the main beneficiaries of newly acquired computer systems, the "start 'em young" principle familiar from language instruction is broadly applied.

"Children from [age] 4 upwards will have access to computers, which at that age basically means twiddling buttons to choose a right answer," said Henry Searle, principal of the British International School. "The children will go to the computer in the same way as they go to the teacher, or the teacher will direct them to the computer for a specific piece of learning."

Cambridge certificate basic and advanced level computer courses are available for the senior classes, who will now have use of two new computer centers. These developments are in line with the school's overall expansion, with the opening this year of two new constituent schools. Pupil numbers have consequently increased from 400 to 650, while the addition of 24 new foreign and local teachers brings the total teaching staff to 75.

At the Anglo-American School the PC systems installed this year complement existing Macintosh systems, officials said. Here too, children as young as 4 and even 3 years old will work with computers once a week this year.

In the upper school, a distinctly no-nonsense approach applies to preparing the school's charges for further studies and the world of work. "No matter what age we get them, from seventh grade on up, if they don't have keyboarding, we're going to make sure they get it," said principal Charles Barder.

Admissions this year at the school are up by about 50, to a total of 592 pupils, while the teaching staff has risen slightly to 57 full-time teachers and 18 junior school assistants.

Keeping pace with the latest in communications, the Deutsche Schule is shortly to be linked up with the Internet, following its move to new premises, said the school's computing chief, Harald Wieber.

The number of pupils at the school has not changed significantly this year from the school's average of 350 to 370 and the number of teachers has not changed.

At the Swedish School, the potential of computer-based education is taken one step further, with older students receiving and submitting assignments via direct server connection with teachers in schools in Stockholm, thus allowing the small school of 32 pupils to stay in step with the Swedish curriculum.

To ensure that each pupil has access to a computer during classes this term, five new units are being installed, bringing the total to 12. But as the other schools have discovered, local conditions can complicate the introduction of the new technology.

"We have most problems with the [delay in receiving] telephone connections," said the school's computer teacher, Claes Engstrom. "At the moment [city workers] are laying a fiber-optic cable outside our school, so we're nosing around to see if it's possible to connect us up with that," he added.

This year the number of pupils at the school has grown by a third compared with last year, and the size of the teaching staff will shortly increase to four.