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Programming school opens in north Japan esports facility to develop kids' digital skills

Instructor Takeshi Izuta is seen at a programming school equipped with advanced computers in the city of Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture, on March 3, 2022. (Mainichi/Taisuke Kodera)

YAMAGATA -- A programming school for elementary and junior high school children has been launched in this northern Japan city with an aim to develop tech-savvy personnel who can respond to an increasingly digitized society.

    The organization, called D-School, opened at esports trial complex YES*7 in the city of Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture. It enables students to receive hands-on training surrounded by top gaming equipment including 20 advanced computers and other devices.

    YES*7 was established in August 2021 by local ad agency Sam Communications with the aim of revitalizing the city center. The operator planned to make the esports trial facility a venue for learning amid growing calls from parents and guardians wanting to familiarize their children with programming from a very young age. The move came after the Japanese government listed programming classes as a mandatory subject at elementary schools starting with the 2020 academic year.

    At D-School, operated by Educational Design Co., popular game Minecraft is used to let children cultivate their imagination and logical thinking while creating a three-dimensional space with cubic blocks.

    "We'd like children to enjoy learning as an introduction (to programming)," an official with Sam Communications said.

    The school is accepting early years elementary school children through to junior high school age. Lessons are twice a month, with each lasting 90 minutes, for 9,800 yen (about $85) including tax. Free trial lessons will be offered from 10:30 a.m. on March 12, 19, 20 and 27. For inquiries, call the institution at 023-616-7078 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Taisuke Kodera, Yamagata Bureau)

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