Kerala leads in Artificial Intelligence, coding for children


SOURCE: TIMESOFINDIA.INDIATIMES.COM
OCT 17, 2021

Image used for representational purpose only

KOCHI: Kerala could claim the title of being the first state where IT coding was first introduced into the curriculum of one of its schools, right from Class I onwards. Dayapuram Residential School in Kattangal, Kozhikode, was the first school that started coding sessions and classes on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for kids at a very young age.

The firm behind the achievement is a Kerala-based startup Cyber Square, now based out of London. Founded by NIT alumni N P Haris, Cyber Square introduced the coding concept from Grade 1 and Artificial Intelligence from Grade 2 in India. It also focuses on teaching other skills like data science, 3D printing, etc., starting from Grade 1.

As it was a pioneering concept in the country, the project in Kerala was inaugurated by the then Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh in 2019, and now the curriculum is followed in 36 schools, of which 13 are in Kerala. UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are the other countries where the curriculum is being followed. In India, some schools in Maharashtra and Telangana also follow the project.

When asked what prompted to come up with the idea of coding for kids, Haris said, “Coding is the language of machines. It is scientifically proven that children learn languages at a faster rate than adults because of the brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation that babies and young children are able to learn languages at a faster rate. I believe that if they apply what they learn in any other subjects in computers, it will not only change them from technology users to technology creators but overall learning will become interesting as children love computers and mobiles.”

According to Haris, it was very tough persuading schools to accept the curriculum. “Convincing teachers, school management and parents to introduce this in schools were the challenges,” he said.

It is important to teach coding at a very young age, said Shilen Sagunan, chairman of Malabar Angels and Malabar Innovation Zone. “In the old days, writing and speakeing were essential skills for anybody entering any field of study. However, things have changed now, and it has become essential for people to learn at least one coding language, irrespective of their field of expertise,” he said.

Barely a year after Nasscom president inaugurated the coding curriculum in Kerala, a nationwide formal programme was announced by NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission, in collaboration with Nasscom – to teach coding at school levels. Then various online tutoring companies started offering coding courses. However, Kerala could claim it started it all.