China bans Scratch, MIT’s programming language for kids – TechCrunch

China’s enthusiasm for teaching children to code is facing a new roadblock as organizations and students lose an essential tool: the Scratch programming language developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media China-based internet users can no longer access Scratch’s …

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That includes students in China, which is seeing a gold rush to early coding as the country tries to turn its 200 million kids into world-class tech talents. At last count, 5. 65% or 3 million of Scratch’s registered users are based in China, though its reach is greater than the figure suggests as many Chinese developers have built derivatives based on Scratch, an open-source software.

Inside schools, it’s used in many official information technology textbooks for primary school students,” said Anqi Zhou, chief executive of Shenzhen-based Dream Codes True, a coding startup targeting primary and secondary school kids. “There are many coding competitions for kids using Scratch.

Projects on Scratch contains “a great deal of humiliating, fake, and libelous content about China,” including placing Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in a dropdown list of “countries”, a state-run news outlet reported on August 21.

Some companies attribute Scratch’s open-source codes as their foundation while others build lookalikes that claim to be in-house made, several Chinese founders working in the industry told TechCrunch. “Scratch is like the benchmark for kids’ programming software.

Regardless of the “problematic” user-generated content on Scratch, China will likely encourage more indigenous tech players to grow, as it has done in a sweeping effort to localize semiconductors and even source code hosting.

China-based internet users can no longer access Scratch’s website. Greatfire. org, an organization that monitors internet censorship in China, shows that the website was 100% blocked as early as August 20, while a Scratch user flagged the ban on August 14.

With its own Kitten language “more robust than Scratch,” the startup boasts a footprint in 21 countries, over 30 million users, and about 11,000 institutional customers.

Most parents learn about Scratch from extracurricular programs, which tend to keep all the web traffic to themselves rather than directing users to Scratch,” said Yi Zhang, founder of Tangiplay, a Shenzhen-based startup teaching children to code through hardware.

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