Former Spanish Presidents unite in support of computer science education

This is the first time past heads of government from all sides of a country’s political spectrum have taken a public stand towards supporting CS

It’s not often that you see leaders from various political parties agree on an issue, but that’s the amazing thing about computer science education: it’s a nonpartisan issue that everyone agrees is important.

Four living former Spanish Presidents have joined the movement and are calling for computer science to be taught in all schools and to all students in Spain. From top left clockwise: Felipe González (1982–1996), José María Aznar (1996–2004), Mariano Rajoy (2011–2018) and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (2004–2011).

During the nine years since Code.org started advocating for CS to be taught in all public schools around the world, we’ve witnessed heads of state, policymakers, and elected officials from all political backgrounds come forward and add their voices to the global movement calling for incorporating CS in the curriculum.

In the United States, thanks to the support of governors, legislators, and federal administrations from both parties, all states already teach computer science to some extent, and funding to enable teacher training and the adoption of CS by education districts has been increasing over the years.

At the global level, heads of state and government as well as other elected officials representing all ideologies from around 70 countries have also supported the movement, from participating in an Hour of Code activity, to calling for education authorities to include CS in the curriculum, to actually implementing national, regional or local education policies to ensure that students learn CS in public schools.

But it is always encouraging when all living former heads of government from a single country come on record to express how important it is for students to learn computational thinking and programming skills. More so, when these leaders represent opposing political parties.

In January of 2021, the President of the Spanish government Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón announced the National Digital Skills Plan. Our CEO, Hadi Partovi, spoke at the event (speech at 18:15) about the foundational nature of computer science in education and its importance for the future workforce and the country’s economic development.

In the wake of this announcement, the four living former Spanish Presidents have joined the movement and are calling for CS to be taught in all schools and to all students in Spain. Felipe González (1982–1996), José María Aznar (1996–2004), José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (2004–2011), and Mariano Rajoy (2011–2018) recorded video messages about the importance of CS in this rapidly changing world and how critical it is for students of all ages to acquire these skills. They also call for educational authorities at all levels in Spain to incorporate CS in the curriculum.

González emphasized that it is essential for Spain to teach CS in schools and called for “all levels of government, from national to regional to local, to commit to it.” He added that “students that go to public schools need to learn these skills.”

Aznar shared that “learning digital skills is essential when the digital revolution is rapidly changing not only cultural but social, political, economic, and behavioral parameters in every society in the world.”

Rodríguez Zapatero remembered how “every significant change that has led to progress through history has resulted from new technologies” and points out that “computer science will help us address some of the most critical challenges facing humanity today.”

Rajoy stressed that CS is critical for future entrepreneurs and those pursuing careers in STEM and said that “even students who won’t become programmers have to learn and understand programming”. He added that “learning computer science can help improve the world around us and improve the quality of individuals’ lives.”

This initiative represents the first time all past heads of government in a single country have taken a public stand towards supporting CS, and we are excited to see this kind of leadership.

Check out the extended videos here: Felipe González, José María Aznar, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Mariano Rajoy.

-Leonardo Ortiz Villacorta, Code.org

Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.