Kerala School Children to be given Computer Programming Kits

By: Gizbot Bureau

In a pioneering project designed to create a resource pool of skilled future IT professionals and entrepreneurs, around 2,500 school children across Kerala will be given computer programming kits and taught to code.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will launch the pilot phase of the Kerala government's 'Learn to Code' project on February 21, under which 2,500 selected school students will be given Raspberry Pi computer kits and trained by IT experts to programme, a press release said here today.

The Raspberry Pi distribution is the first such project in India and currently the only state-sponsored programme of its kind in the world. It is being implemented by Technopark Technology Business Incubator (T-TBI) in association with Kerala's IT@School project and Kochi-based mobile-internet technology incubator Startup Village.

Kerala School Children to be given Computer Programming Kits

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Industries and IT Minister, P K Kunhalikutty and IT Principal Secretary, P H Kurian will be among the dignitaries at the state-level inauguration of the project at North Paravur. Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb will deliver a special address via video conferencing.

The computers will be distributed simultaneously to the selected students in all districts of the state. The inaugural will be followed by a training session handled by the faculty of IT@School.

It will be telecast live to all district venues of IT@School via the Victers education channel. The government, under the scheme, plans to distribute 10,000 kits annually to students, primarily in eighth standard, and follow it up with focussed training/mentoring sessions and competitions.

"IT is one of the growth engines of Kerala's economy and the project has been launched with the long-term goal of making our state a global technology hub in the coming years," said Kunhalikutty. "We have a very strong education system and exceptionally talented youngsters, so we want to catch them young and instill in them a culture of experimentation and innovation".

"For India to be a manufacturing powerhouse, we require skilled employees who can build products for sunrise industries such as electronics and ICT," said IT Principal Secretary P H Kurian.

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"To build these products, we need excellent coders and they are the key to building startups which will turn into billion dollar companies in the future," he said. The TTBI has spent more than Rs one crore on procuring Raspberry Pi kits. Each kit costs Rs 4,324.

Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a display unit (computer monitor or TV) and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It can carry out most functions of a regular desktop, including word processing, playing games and videos, and internet surfing, besides enabling users to learn programming in languages such as Scratch and Python.

The selected students will first be given basic training and encouraged to experiment with the Pi. Focussed coding sessions will start after the examinations in March. Starting April, each student will be assigned a mentor to guide them through the learning process.

"We will evaluate the pilot project in six months time, improve upon it and extend it to more school children in the future," Dr Jayasankar Prasad C, CEO of TTBI, said. This is a very important educational project for Kerala and as such, we intend to keep the momentum going with regular follow-up activities, summer vacation classes, coding contests for school children and other such programmes, he said.

Source: PTI

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