Although teaching computers has already been introduced in India, it focuses primarily on digital literacy and students are taught use of word processors and presentation applications. Many countries are moving away from a digital literacy to a Computational Thinking (CT) based curriculum. Introducing a computing curriculum for schools in India has several challenges over and above those faced by the developed nations. Apart from the cultural and regional diversity, India has over 1.6 million schools offering K-12 education to 300 million students. Compare that with about 130,000 schools in the USA with 54 million students. To compound the problem, India has 44 education Boards!
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) India started a education initiative, CSpathshala in 2016, to teach computing as a science in all schools. The key objectives are to popularise CT and influence education policy to enable its introduction into the curricula. A two-pronged approach has been undertaken, developing a CT curriculum along with teaching aids and working at grassroot levels with schools, training teachers, executing pilot projects and collecting data to demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of teaching CT. We have also initiated discussions with MHRD as well as policymakers.
Over 1,00,000 students in government and private schools in both rural and urban areas in Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are piloting the CT curriculum in English, Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi. 1350 trustees, heads and teachers from 600+ institutions, B.Ed students, local government and SCERT officials participated in 12 CT awareness workshops. 900+ teachers from 290+ schools have been trained on CT through 30 training programs. Teaching aids for 200 lessons have been created by CSpathshala’s 250+ volunteers. A subset of these have been translated into Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi.
Google has further extended the funding to CSpathshala by 2 years. Partnerships have been forged with NCERT’s NROER repository, Cambridge University Press, Rotary Club of Pimpri and NGO Learning Links Foundation. Codechef is our technology partner. CSpathshala’s leadership in CT education in India is increasingly getting noticed and recognized. NCERT invited CSpathshala to participate in the CS curriculum committee for grades XI/XII, as well as author chapters for the textbook. Andhra Pradesh department of Social Welfare has decided to adopt curriculum for 1,00,00 students in 188 of its residential schools.
CSpathshala focus in 2018-2020 will be to roll out an assessment program to assess the direct and indirect impact of CT, master trainer program and continue efforts with National Policy & Education Boards to mainstream CT.