To instill scientific temper among children at an early age, the Government of India, under the National Education Policy (NEP), has recommended coding as a subject from class 6 onwards. Domain experts, however, have raised concerns over ‘burdening’ young students with a complex subject and pointed to a lack of proper curriculum and teacher training in the domain. They also fear that the move will further widen the digital divide between the rural and urban India.
“Coding classes are currently limited to people with a laptop, internet connection, and paying capacity. Further, very little content is available in the field which is suitable for children and apt for the Indian context. We also need subject experts in this domain,” said Aanand Srinivas, founder and CEO, StayQrious – an ed-tech platform teaching live coding classes.
According to the National Employability Report (NER) 2019 by Aspiring Minds, only 4.6 per cent of Indian engineering job applicants possess the ability to write functionally correct code. But in these classes, kids as young as 8-year-old are learning the skill.
For coding classes to succeed, says Srinivas, ‘we need to remove it from the superficial level and teach it as any other subject. “It can start from students writing code on a paper and getting it checked by the teacher. It would not be as glamorous but in schools where one computer lab serves the entire school, it can be a great solution,” he added.
Schools have already turned towards online platforms and are collaborating for teaching coding. Another popular online coding platform, Tinker Coders have tied up with over 200 schools for various online coding programs during the pandemic alone. It claims that the number of enrolments has grown rapidly since the NEP was released. Coding Ninjas Junior too claims to have seen a rise of 130 per cent within the past two months.
Most of the learners for Coding Ninja Jr come from major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, and Patna. Ankush Singla, co-founder of Coding Ninjas, and Coding Ninjas Junior said that for coding classes to reach rural India, there needs to be basic infrastructure and awareness first. “A constant flow of electricity, broadband services, and affordability for the economically weaker section.”
Quoting the NSO survey, Singla said that only 4.4 per cent of rural households have access to computers and 14.9 per cent of rural households have an internet facility. He believes that with NEP and mandating of coding classes, an “appetite for tech education in rural households” will be created.