Hyderabad: In a world that is increasingly becoming digitised and going towards a scenario where all office jobs require one to be digitally literate, digital illiteracy is a major concern.
Attempting to address this issue at a grass-roots level, is city based NGO, Coding For All, which aims at increasing digital literacy among underprivileged children and also goes a step beyond by teaching them coding and programming so they can have a chance at a good career in their future.
It all began when city-based entrepreneur, M Omkar Nath after completing his graduation in 2012, started a company and looked to tie up with schools and teach children coding. “It was a for-profit company but at the back of my mind, I always wanted to work with underprivileged children and teach them programming to enable a good future. Later, I started volunteering for another organisation through which I was involved in conducting workshops on digital literacy in various government schools and in 2018, I decided to focus completely on working with the underprivileged children,” he says.
It was around that time that Nath met Abhimanyu Sarkar, who now works as the head of operations at the NGO. After brainstorming, the idea behind the initiative was born and they started piloting in various government schools in Hyderabad.
“I had vague ideas but Abhimanyu gave the whole thing a direction and we decided to start off with teaching programming in government schools. After we started, we realised there are two major issues – the children don’t have access to computers and the medium of education is Telugu but all the learning sources available are in English. We decided to tackle these two issues and go ahead,” shares Omkar.
The team solved the first problem by building an app with built-in handwriting recognition, so that the children can write code on paper and their teacher can scan the code and the app compiles it. “The app provides a proper integrated development environment and we give teachers in schools access to this app. So whenever we give any tasks to the children, they can just write code on paper. We solved the second problem by creating relevant content in Telugu,” Omkar says.
Having conducted workshops and sessions in over 100 schools, the organisation has now tied up with the State government, to conduct regular training sessions in 50 schools in and around the city from the coming academic year. “We plan on impacting over 50,000 students and also plan on initiating a class-to-career method, to ensure the school students are regularly mentored and guided from the time they enroll into our program to the time they get a job later in life,” Omkar concludes.