HYDERABAD: Schools have a major role in developing future generations of job seekers who can sail through the challenges thrown by automation, aided by Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, that has the present generation of job seekers already in jitters.
However, lakhs of children in Hyderabad and across Telangana are passing out of schools every year without even basic computer skills, as computer education is not even a subject in school syllabus for classes I-X, set by State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) of Telangana.
One may wonder as to what role schools can play in developing an automation-ready generation but the recently released Automation Readiness Index created by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by ABB, mentions that, “If countries need a long-term strategy to deal with the challenges of automation, education must be at the centre of it.” The report further says that schools, “...must provide students with a grounding in certain technical skills, such as computational thinking, which are likely to be required in most future roles. Many such roles will also require an understanding of AI techniques and robotics themselves.”
Although Telangana government does not leave any opportunity to boast about corporate IT giants establishing their operations in Hyderabad or about the state’s supported startup incubator T-Hub, the sad fact is that while computer education is not part of school curriculum, many children do not even get to use a computer at government schools in Hyderabad and other parts of the state. Same is the situation in most of the private schools as only a few well-known private and corporate schools in the city take interest in providing computer education.
No new computers for 189 high schools in Hyderabad
It may be mentioned here that since Telangana formation not a single new computer has been bought for any of the 189 high schools in Hyderabad, by the government. As per figures obtained by the school education department, of the 189 high schools in Hyderabad, 86 schools do not even have a computer. Of these 86 high schools, while government gave approval to buy computers for 62 high schools in 2016-17, it never materialised and for the remaining 24 high schools the department had proposed to buy computers last year but the government did not approve it. The picture is not rosy in the 103 high schools which have computers, as in most of these schools the computers are just on paper and are not functioning. Computers in these schools were bought in the years 2007-08 and 2008-09.
An official of the school education department said, “In most of the 103 high schools, computers have become dysfunctional as they are a decade old and have not been maintained as the schools neither get money for maintenance nor any manpower to maintain them. Moreover, what will the teachers teach when computer education is not even a subject and there is no study material or syllabus for computer education by government.”
Computer edn curriculum developed by IIT Bombay
Telangana government can take a cue or adopt an amended version of the model computer science curriculum, developed class-wise for the children studying classes I-VIII, by Inter-disciplinary Programme in Educational Technology, Computer Science and Engineering department, IIT Bombay. These books developed by IIT-Bombay are even available freely for download from the internet.
The curriculum covers various aspects of computer education. The curriculum includes Scratch, a visual based programming language from Class-II itself.
When asked the importance of computer education in schools, Prof Sridhar Iyer of CSE department at IIT-Bombay, one of the authors who developed the model computer science curriculum, speaking to Express said, “Computer science education develops thinking skills, how to synthesize information, how to interpret data, how to even create a presentation and organize your ideas and is not just limited to programming. All these skills are useful across variety of subjects that will prove useful throughout life and all of them can be learnt easily in the concept of computers.”