Students flock to learn coding as digital literacy becomes critical
Edtech startups are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to cater to the demand for coding in schools that is fast gaining popularity, spurred by the belief that it boosts computational thinking and equips students for the digital era.
Edtech startup Stemrobo Technologies, for instance, has seen a 200% increase in the demand for coding in schools in last 3-4 months. The startup had launched Tinker Coders — a platform to provide affordable online coding classes to K-12 students —during the peak of the pandemic. Tinker Coders has enrolled over 300,000 users and 600 instructors on its learning platform since its launch.
Rajeev Tiwari, founder, Stemrobo Technologies, believes the primary reason for this growth “has been new policies like the National Education Policy 2020 which promotes coding and AI in schools, and increased awareness and structural transformation going on in society that is making innovation, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), coding, and AI (artificial intelligence) very pervasive”. Apart from India, its business-to-consumer (B2C) services are offered to users in 35 countries including the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
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The demand for coding in schools has increased dramatically in the last 5-10 years, corroborated a spokesperson from WhiteHat Jr — an online coding platform startup that was acquired by India's largest edtech Byju’s in a $300-million deal in August 2020. WhiteHat Jr claims to have signed up over 500 schools across the country, representing more than 1.25 lakh students who will learn coding through a blended curriculum. The company, aims to train one million students via the ‘physical-digital blended model’ this academic year.
“At a young age, the power to grasp and understand any subject or activity is higher than at a later stage in our lives. Teaching kids to code provides a well-structured way to introduce them to rational thinking and problem-solving skills. It also helps kids to improve their logical and analytical thinking and increases creativity and concentration – all of which are skills that can be applied far beyond the realm of computer science,” the spokesperson said.
Likewise, as part of its Superkids program, EdTech company Vedantu also offers project-driven coding program for students between the age group of 6-12 years.
To be sure, the early exposure to coding among students is expected to make India the leading country with coding skills. While the US currently has the largest population of developers, India will overtake the US by 2023 according to Evans Data Corporation, a global research organisation. That said, some students have also been able to convert academic coding projects to problem-solving apps for the real world.
For instance, Aravind, a 15-year-old boy from Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, started learning coding from WhiteHat Jr since February 2020. He recently developed an agritech app named ‘Golden Crop’ with the aim to help farmers with multiple aspects pertaining to growing crops including crop selection, soil health, and timely sowing of seeds. “Golden Crop is a small attempt to aid farmers in the decision-making process so that they can earn a better yield and lead a better life. I will keep working on this app by adding more features,” said Aravind.
Coding for kids is currently estimated to be a $14 billion market in India with extremely high growth potential. Coding-specific acquisitions in the EdTech space point towards the same growth trajectory.
Other than the acquisition of WhiteHat Jr by Byju’s, Unacademy acquired CodeChef, an online platform for algorithm and coding, in 2020 to help the latter launch a coding skill vertical for school kids. In 2021, Byju’s also acquired California-based Tynker — a leading coding platform for K-12 students, in an attempt to expand to international markets.