Students of Telangana’s Asifabad are now coding sans computers- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Despite being pushed back by two years in terms of formal education due to the pandemic, the children of Kumurambheem Asifabad district are now sprinting towards learning useful education skills like coding.

This is after the district administration tied up with an MIT award-winning Hyderabad-based startup called Next Skills 360, which has supplied the district with 300-odd programming kits which don’t need a computer.

Through the programme, 46 students from Class 9 and 13 teachers from six schools in two mandals of the district have learned how to code, using a programming language for children called SCRATCH. In the coming months, nearly 500-plus classmates of theirs will learn the same from these trained students.

“The entire idea behind this programming kit which is called ProGame Kit is that they teach the basics of programming without a computer. This is highly useful in setups such as the remote areas in Kumurambheem Asifabad where children can’t readily access either computers at schools or homes. All a classroom full of kids needs is just this kit and one phone to run the app,” explains Sowjanya Suraj, co-founder of Next Skill 360.

The ProGame Kit has four elements, one being of a gaming board and the other being cardboard cutouts with the characters and the syntax used for the coding, which are to be arranged in a logical manner to make the characters replicate their actions.

The arrangement of the code thus written is then scanned via the ProGame app on the teacher’s phone and the program’s output is generated on the phone. The code’s output is shown as bright colorful animations.

“Coding is a 21st century skill which is even part of the latest National Educational Policy. When we started out with the children in Asifabad they only knew what the word coding meant and nothing more. It is only after a six-day day workshop in February that they now are master trainers who know the basics like their counterparts in private schools and ready to impart the same to their classmates,” added Sowjanya

It’s a fantastic opportunity for the district administration to motivate students who were jaded by the lockdown. “This district, being dominated by tribals has seen some resistance in exploring more employment opportunities outside the district. Through such programmes, we wish to open up a world of opportunities to them,” said a senior official from the district administration who wishes to see These students get jobs in Google, Microsoft and the likes in the future from this small stepping stone.

While currently, the entire initiative in Asifabad is supported by MIT funding, the district administration plans to rope in CSR and extend it to all schools, targeting 4,000 students of Class IX which also happens to be a crucial time when school drop-outs are likely .

To counter drop in school occupancy

Kumurambheem Asifabad district’s school occupancy had hit a low of 30-40 per cent in the last two years, which slowly rose to 70-80 per cent presently. The district administrations plans to target 4,000 ninth grade students, especially at a time when school dropouts are likely


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