01/23/2014 09:36 EST | Updated 03/25/2014 05:59 EDT

New Brunswick Liberals promise fund to improve information technology

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's Liberal leader promised Thursday to create a fund to teach computer programming in schools.

Brian Gallant said the province has a generation of students who are comfortable using technology but are unable to create it, and that needs to be addressed in order to improve the province's economy.

Gallant said the fund would be allocated for teachers who are approved for specific projects, and the money would go to teacher training and technology.

He said the fund would cost $100,000 to $150,000 in the first year, and the training could be made part of existing technology courses.

The proposal would have to be evaluated after the first year, but he'd like to see it available in all schools after a few years, he added.

"We want to make sure we have a good trial run with it, we develop the right curriculum, we have people who can teach it right away and hit the ground running," Gallant said.

The promise comes ahead of an election scheduled for Sept. 22.

Premier David Alward said there are already efforts in place to get students interested in computer coding, adding that for much of the past year, mentors from a number of private companies have been visiting classrooms as part of a program called Kids Coding.

Alward said the New Brunswick Research and Innovation Council is also looking for ways to increase computer programming education in the schools and he'll have more to announce in the coming weeks.