The world is changing at a rate we have never seen before. Not only are we seeing the rise of new kinds of jobs, but the automation and insignificance of many of the old ones. The world we live in is increasingly becoming more dynamic and agile.
Over half the population in India is below the age of 25, with over 65% being younger than 35. In a world where jobs are being automated and the possibility of large scale automation is becoming a reality, it is important to think about the challenges this population segment will face and the skills that they will require.
As things are becoming increasingly digital, software holds the key. We have seen this in the past few decades. Everything from communication and grocery shopping to earning a living is increasingly becoming digital. Computer programs underlie everything from business and marketing to aviation, science and medicine. Technology has crept into all parts of our life. In such a world, coding is as much a necessity as driving is. While it is true is that not everyone wants to be a techie or an IT guy. That is a fair argument. But, it is important to look at coding from the perspective of a necessary skill rather than a professional choice, much like most who learn to drive don’t take up driving as a profession, but as a skill that makes life easier.
One can also present the argument that children these days have an intuitive understanding of technology, why should they know how to code? If one doesn’t know how to code, the future will have fewer opportunities for them. In order to have a more inclusive future, it is important to possess the basic skillset that will inevitably be required.
The importance of including coding in the education curriculum is being recognized worldwide and is gaining momentum. In 2015, the Labor Party’s education plan stated “Coding is the literacy of the 21st Century, and every young Australian should be able to read and write the global language of the digital age.”. This isn’t just in Australia, but other countries such as Estonia, UK and US are recognizing this. Estonia introduced coding in primary schools in 2012 and the UK followed suit in 2014. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and various corporate are supporting initiatives such as Code.org and the “Hour of Code” that provide school children an opportunity to learn computer coding.
Even in China, there is a recognition of this change. Parents have been teaching their kids how to code and give it as much importance as subjects like Math (something which its citizens are known for worldwide).
It is important that the Indian education system keep up with changes in the world. Many of the subjects taught in school are increasingly becoming irrelevant. The syllabus and books being used have been the same for decades now. There is an urgent need to revise the syllabus and add computer programming in order to have an inclusive future. The revision of curriculum doesn’t mean adding a new subject and textbook but to provide real experience.
Learning coding is not only helpful when it comes to landing a job, but can also help one earn a living independently. It provides an opportunity to be self-employed. There are other benefits as well as it helps inculcate habits and skills such as logical and critical thinking, attention to detail, etc. After all, “Computational thinking (CT) is a problem-solving process that includes some characteristics, such as logically ordering and analyzing data and creating solutions using a series of ordered steps (or algorithms), and dispositions, such as the ability to confidently deal with complexity and open-ended problems. CT is essential to the development of computer applications, but it can also be used to support problem-solving across all disciplines, including math, science, and the humanities. Students who learn CT across the curriculum can begin to see a relationship between subjects as well as between school and life outside of the classroom.”
The need is to understand data and information. Computer programming is necessary to develop this understanding.
-Contributed by Bhargav Dhakappa
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