Gearing Up For An AI-ready Future | CodeChef Ponders NEP

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Steve Jobs once said, ”Everybody should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

A code can do anything!

This adage holds true now more than ever. With the New Education Policy coming into play, students will now learn how to code from as early as Class 6, a change that truly resonates with CodeChef, who has been teaching kids coding for the past 11 years. Coding is going to be the way forward as it opens up a plethora of opportunities for the budding generation that will eventually enter the workforce, as most companies now have a digital presence that is developed by coders and programmers. Besides the widespread everyday applications in a range of fields, coding helps a child’s own development, helps them to confidently solve problems, and prepares them for a technology-driven world.

Current State of Programming in India

Programming has gained traction as a sought-after skill as it opens up a variety of career paths. However, it is still a subject introduced much later in a student’s educational journey. At the college level, students of computer science are taught programming and coding with the use of tools and programming languages.

The emphasis of these degrees, however, is not on problem-solving skills which is a vital need in the industry. This also leads to a gap between students’ skills and what the industry needs. To address these gaps and challenges, introducing a more inclusive approach to programming is important and even better if it begins right from school.

While CBSE, ICSE, and IB schools do have a technology-based approach to education, the NEP will make it a level playing field with coding a must for all school students.

Even across the globe, nations like China, Russia, Singapore, and North Korea have given a much greater emphasis on teaching coding at the school level. 

Paving the Way with Coding and Programming

The Ministry of Education’s National Education Policy 2020 has garnered a lot of interest in the public eye. One of its major changes is a more holistic approach to education, with emphasis on technology to set the future generation on a path towards innovation and advancement right from a young age. The education system will now take a more progressive approach in order to address the needs of the changing workplace.

Some of the principles of the NEP include:

Multidisciplinarity and a holistic education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and sports for a multidisciplinary world in order to ensure the unity and integrity of all knowledge

Emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for-exams

Creativity and critical thinking to encourage logical decision-making and innovation

Extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access for Divyang students, and educational planning and management

Coding for kids is the new catchphrase and will be implemented as per the NEP, with all students being introduced to coding as early as Class 6 rather than the current college level. This education reform aims at improving digital literacy which will be a crucial ask for jobs in the not-so-distant future.

Another area of focus will be on teaching coding without the use of computers through puzzles, logic, and theory. The New Education Policy aims at introducing students to counting, logical thinking, critical thinking, creativity, sequencing skills, cause and effect, and problem-solving, all through the use of coding.

Kids can learn coding from a fundamental level through the use of games, and students can learn to create their own games and apps for several different platforms.    

Here are of the focal points of the NEP in terms of technology:

An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration, and so on, both for school and higher education.

Universities will aim to offer Ph.D. and Masters programs in core areas such as Machine Learning as well as multidisciplinary fields “AI + X” and professional areas like health care, agriculture, and law.

A rich variety of educational software, for all the above purposes, will be developed and made available for students and teachers at all levels. All such software will be available in all major Indian languages and will be accessible to a wide range of users including students in remote areas and Divyang students. 

NEP set to Future-proof India’s Next Generation

With the New Education Policy (NEP) in place, programming in India is poised for change and will begin at the grassroots level right from school.

The future of programming in India is certainly bright and being a skilled coder inevitably leads to exciting careers. While this is one aspect of the necessity of coding, problem-solving takes on even greater importance. Learning to code will soon become a necessity for everyone to know as it’s a great way to learn and hone one’s problem-solving skills that will also be applicable to navigate everyday life. Honing those skills right from school will certainly be a win for students.

Various corporates are also on board with this reform in education and have been organizing hackathons and coding fests for children that witness young minds showcasing their coding skills, creativity, and ability to solve problems. Such events will certainly encourage more students in the field and will be on the rise in the years to come.

CodeChef started the program ‘CodeChef for Schools’ in 2013, to introduce children to the basic concepts and logic of programming. Under this program, CodeChef organizes summer camps, workshops, and exciting coding contests for school students. With the advent of the NEP, several organizations have also jumped onto the wagon of conducting coding classes for kids to help them gain an interest in coding from an early age.

Keeping up with the changing times, the NEP is set to ensure that coding is well on its way to becoming child’s play, combining fun and learning while encouraging vital analytical thinking and problem-solving skills in students.

The National Education Policy 2020 is all set to make India AI-ready and welcome a budding new generation to a digitally advanced workforce.

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