Technology is becoming an integral part of everyone’s life. There is an increasing recognition that today's generation needs to use it to create and innovate rather than just being passive consumers. It is of little surprise that Indian students are actively seeking coding lessons.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 also recognises digital literacy, computational thinking and coding as essential skills for children as learning coding in early years helps them develop their analytical thinking, problem solving capabilities and creativity. These skills are fundamental for human beings to thrive, not only in the economy, but in all areas of life.
Technology skills have lied at the core of India’s IT revolution: in 2020, India’s IT industry accounted for 8 percent of India’s GDP and more than half of the market share of the USD 200-250 billion global services sourcing business. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it saw 138,000 new hires and is likely to hire the most through 2021. In 2018, 71 percent of all new jobs in STEM required algorithmic thinking and programming skills as IoT, AI and ML percolate into all sectors of the economy, this number has only gone up. New jobs are emerging; data scientist roles shot up by 650 percent through the last decade, all requiring knowledge of coding. In 2020, the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum ranked programming, along with analytical thinking, problem solving capabilities and creativity, as top skills to have in 2025.
India’s edtech system has stepped up in response and in 2019 and 2020, many edtech companies mainstreamed coding lessons in urban education. They have seen great success, leading to the proliferation of online coding platforms for school children.
For coding lessons to become ubiquitous in India, two significant market characteristics need to be catered to -
1. Language: In 2012, only 10 percent of Indians spoke English; while this number would have gone up by now, the proportion of the non-English speaking population remains significantly larger. The NEP 2020, along with several studies and experts, has recognised the benefits children accrue by learning in their mother tongue. However, most platforms continue to teach coding in English.
2. Device: In 2017-18, only 11 percent of Indian households owned a computer or computer-like device. Penetration of mobile phones has been slightly larger with a quarter of Indians owning one. However, most coding lessons on most platforms are designed for laptops.
To achieve greater market penetration, online coding lessons need to be tailored to address these factors. CuriousJr, an early-stage online coding learning platform, has stepped up to address this challenge.
CuriousJr is a mobile-first platform that teaches coding in vernacular languages to students aged 10 to 18 years across all income groups, thus addressing the issues of both device and language to a large extent. Founded by a team grounded in the Indian context and with a deep love for coding, CuriousJr is exceptionally aware of Indian realities, and has developed its platform accordingly.
With an intuitive and guided learning process, children learn the concept, understand the problem, code the solution, and evaluate themselves. Thus, they not only learn coding skills, but also develop a problem-solving mindset. Recognising the role of family and communities in educating and motivating children, especially in the Indian context, CuriousJr has also provided students the space to showcase their creations and share them with friends and family. It is currently available in English and Hindi. Founders have an ambitious vision to reach at least one young family member in every Indian household to equip them to solve their own problems with technology. The platform will also enable children to learn other STEM academic skills using a problem-solving pedagogy.
India’s demographic dividend is expected to last another 35 years, while the economy, both domestic and global, is expected to undergo profound changes. It is important that India adapts to these changes and steers itself towards becoming a strong and stable economy. For this, India needs to equip its young workforce with pertinent education, employability-linked and entrepreneurial skills and jobs of the future. Infusing skills - analytical thinking, problem solving and creativity, growth-based mindset - in children from early years would strengthen their foundation, and help them thrive in the economy as well as in life. As coding skills play a vital role in building this foundation for children, we believe CuriousJr will play an important role in making learning more accessible as well as delivering quality outcomes.