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India’s principal scientific adviser launches CodeIndia

Nov 26, 2019

CodeIndia is a programme to promote computer programming skills among school students across India through application-based programming.

New Delhi: The Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and Chairman, Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council Prof K VijayRaghavan inaugurated CodeIndia at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Jaffarpur Kalan, New Delhi. CodeIndia is a new initiative of his office to promote computer programming skill among school students across India through application-based programming.

The inaugural two-week module is being attended by about fifty students and ten teachers selected from across the country, representing all eight regions of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

With the use of computational devices becoming ubiquitous and fundamental to nearly all branches of human pursuit, from business to humanities and from biology to spacecraft design, computer programming and logic development are no more limited to scientists and programmers working in closed laboratory environments but are fast becoming essential skills.

Prof Raghavan said “If data is the fuel for the engines of artificial intelligence and machine learning, then being able to handle data puts you in the driver’s seat. CodeIndia hope is to open the doors of opportunity to our school children to learn cutting edge computer science fundamentals at as early an age as possible. This can make them future-ready in every discipline.”

One of the objectives of CodeIndia is to build an iteratively refining model for teaching skill-based programming for application development to school students and to develop a model curriculum for the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India for adaptation in the school curriculum.

To yield the benefits of India’s immense demographic dividend and to prepare the future generation to intensify the country’s lead and global recognition in the information technology sector, Prof. Vijay Raghavan announced a two-week module on application-based programming for middle and intermediate level school students. Through this module, the students will not only learn programming skills but also gain an aptitude for building applications for diverse areas. This module is expected to be taught by a group of specialists with a high level of expertise in this area, drawn from academia as well as industry from across the globe.

The module will be bi-lingual, conducted in English and the regional language, depending on the region where the CodeIndia training is being held. This approach aligns with the language mission of the office of PSA to GoI; as well as the vision of the government for democratic inclusion of the most resource constraint population of the country and providing them scientific and educational tools for meeting the skill set needs and requirements of the 21st century and beyond.

The initial two-week programme has been designed by Dr. Prem Sewak Sudhish, an Associate Professor in Computer Science at Dayalbagh Educational Institute. He has been a volunteer consultant to the Government of India on several national projects and is an avid aficionado of technology enabled democratization and internationalization of education. He strongly believes that research and development in technology should come out of ivory towers to benefit the marginalized and underprivileged in the society.

Dr. Sudhish has a BS in Electrical Engineering with distinction from Dayalbagh Educational Institute, MS from Stanford University and PhD through a collaborative arrangement between Dayalbagh Educational Institute and Michigan State University. Keeping the diversity of the target beneficiaries in mind, the two-week program has been designed with the following considerations:

  1. The module does not assume any prior knowledge or usage of computers or programming. Other pre-requisites such as prior knowledge of mathematics (except basic arithmetic) and logic are also not assumed.

  2. The program is proposed to be taught largely through open-source tools and platforms so that schools and students may continue to use the software in the future without any licensing issues.

  3. The program may effectively and efficiently be delivered at a single level (especially since no pre- requisites are assumed) and would be of interest and benefit to students from middle school through intermediate levels (grade 6 through grade 12).

  4. The program includes hands-on learning and product creation from the first day itself, leading to a full team-designed project by the end of module to provide sufficient experience and confidence to the students and to promote:

    1. Peer-collaborative and self-learning and exploration in the area beyond the 2-week module.

    2. Gainful utilization the skills in problem-solving and as a potential earning opportunity.

Besides the experts drawn from academia and industry nationwide who will mentor the program on a regular basis, the students participating in the program will have opportunity for interaction with global experts from premier organizations and institutions such as Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, the University of Edinburgh, etc. and will learn applications of computer programming in diverse areas such as business, nuclear physics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, aerospace, etc.

The inaugural two-week module has Dr. Prem Sewak Sudhish, Dayalbagh Educational Institute; Dr Archana Sharma, CERN and Life Lab Education and Research Foundation (India); Dr N Apurva Ratan Murty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Kenneth Cecire, University of Notre Dame; Pratiksha Garg, Tata Consultancy Services and Bingi Binathi, Dayalbagh Educational Institute besides other scientists and experts who will teach and interact with the participants.

During the module, the CodeIndia participants will also take on the challenge of analysis of authentic data from the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) particle detector in Large Hadron Collider at CERN, culminating in a CMS masterclass. A virtual visit to the CMS experiment at CERN will also be organized to be viewed by all the participating schools with live interaction with students.

The program is designed to be scalable and future expansion of the program is planned through additional pilot implementations throughout the country, through Navodaya Vidyalayas and Kendriya Vidyalayas with the support of MHRD.

The inaugural function was presided over by G Arumugam, Joint Commissioner, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti.

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