The English Montreal School Board will be teaching elementary school students the basics of computer programming to prepare them for the technology of the future.

“We are looking to prepare our students for those jobs that we don't even know exist today,” board chairperson Angela Mancini told CTV Montreal at the program’s launch on Friday.

“It really brings the whole idea of technology into the hands of our students where they see why it works and they’re able to integrate the various subjects that we used to learn in a very static, different way.”

Using robots to get kids hooked on coding and computer programming, the platform, which is based on an educational model from Singapore, is the first of its kind in Canada -- and it’s already proving to be a hit.

“I'm 12,” Merton Elementary School student Zachary Mackey told CTV Montreal. “When I was born, there was only an iPhone and now it's robots playing soccer -- so it's cool to imagine what it could be like in 20 years.”

Friday’s event showcased robots programmed by students. The idea, the board explained, is to get children comfortable with the basics of computer programming as early as kindergarten. To that end, the board has also partnered with videogame company Ubisoft. Both the school board and Ubisoft dream of positioning Montreal as a world leader in artificial intelligence.

“We need to develop the up and coming,” Ubisoft Montreal communications director Jean-Philippe Grou said. “We need students to be interested in programming and robotics just to make sure we can sustain that growth as long as possible.”

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Kelly Greig