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In the beginning of the 1950s I had the privilege of using the first available programmable computer in Switzerland, Zuse 4, to write my doctoral thesis at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) in Zürich. The first steps in our country in computer sciences, later combined under the name “informatics“, only gradually found their way into cantonal universities, particularly the recognition of informatics as a separate scientific discipline. At the ETHZ it was only in 1974 that the group of computer science professors got their own institute in computer science and it took until 1981 for an entire department of computer science to be initiated. The rapid development of the performance and the miniaturization of computers significantly contributed to a huge increase in data production. This led to an enormous expansion of data communications, which could only be accomplished with a more widespread use of computers. Consequently, communication techniques had to be expanded and access to them had to be enabled.

On our planet, which is threatened by an increasing growth of populations and their demands for better living conditions, Switzerland can only maintain its position as one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries with an exquisite standard of living, and direct democracy by having a modern and efficient education system with high quality research. However, this requires not only taking account of the latest developments in the ICT sector in an optimal expansion of our universities, but also a redesign of the basic education offered in primary and secondary schools, as well as the teaching of computer science in grammar schools. The three basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic are no longer sufficient to ensure a satisfactory existence in today’s world, where computers play a key role in personal and professional life. As the former Director of the Federal Office for Education and Science, I fought for establishing computer science as a separate subject in grammar schools.

A question that arose was whether the integration of ICT subjects in teaching programs was sufficient enough, or whether a more comprehensive knowledge in computer science, which allows for a better use of modern computer technology, should be taught. The authors of the learning platform TigerJython, who demonstrate how the most important concepts in computer science can be taught in a simple way while using the Python programming language and a didactically designed programming environment, give a concrete answer to this question. It provides an excellent foundation for their recommendation that the subject of computer science be introduced in the 6th grade. The following recently published Swiss press release titled "Die Schweizer E­Government­Angebote sind im internationalen Vergleich nur Mittelmass... Die Schweiz ist unter den europäischen Staaten gar auf den vorletzten Platz zurückgefallen" shows, in my opinion, the need for a timely response to this proposal since this alarming regression is above all due to an inadequate knowledge of computer science in the educational institutions. In our rich country with its high density of computers there exists no lack of the necessary material requirements to correct this relaps!

Prof. Dr. sc. math., Dr. h.c. Urs Hochstrasser, former Director of the Federal Office for Education and Science (