Big push for AI, IoT, Data Science in Indian schools – Part I

Big push for AI, IoT, Data Science in Indian schools – Part I

Part 1: The vision of NEP 2020

CBSE is going all out to introduce emerging technologies as skill subjects in the school curricula, perhaps ushering in a new era in tech education

Ever since its new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been formulated, India is going all out for hands-on technology courses at the middle and high school levels. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced emerging technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Data Science, coding, and Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR)among others – as skill subjects in the school curriculum from classes VI to X. Interestingly, the curriculum includes creative lesson plans for students to work on projects offering solutions to local problems. This a totally novel approach in the Indian education system – and definitely so at the school level.

In line with NEP 2020

The end objective is to align the entire education system with the visions of NEP 2020 – increase the pace of tech integration for Indian youth, bridge the future skills gap in the country – and making India AI-ready. Current statistics reveal that over 10,00,000 students from more than 5,000 schools have already enrolled for these subjects. As the integration of such subjects with existing teaching pedagogies is at very early stages yet, CBSE is also organizing capacity-building programs for their teachers who would be teaching these subjects in schools. Till date, over 20,000 teachers have been trained.

Image:CBSE pedagogical approach for AI skills development; Source:

A successful pilot project

First announced in October 2020as a joint initiative by NITI Aayog, Intel India, and Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL), the program was introduced as a pilot project in 59 schools around the country. Atal Tinkering Laboratories is a scheme in schools across India under theAtal Innovation Mission. The objective is to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing, etc.

The outcome of this pilot program was presented in an event held at Dr Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi, on 25 January 2023, which was attended by about 500 educators from schools across NCR.The agenda of thisevent included:

  • Display of AIoT integration-based lesson plans created by teachers themselves, after undergoing training and orientation by experts from the academic and technology sector.
  • Demonstration of AI and AIoT-enabled social impact projects built by students using tinkering and AI, with guidance from their teachers.
  • Release of a compendium with 70 exemplar lesson plans to set the pace for schools and educators wanting to join the momentum for building digital readiness in the country. This compendium is a collection of lesson plans created by the teachers and each one provides a 360-degree view of how AIoT integration can be used to enhance learning in a classroom.

Based on its success in the pilot phase, the program isnow being extended to schools that are outside the ambit of ATLs. Intel collaborated in the project as the technical solution provider and also to create the course activities. The syllabus for coding will be prepared by Microsoft.

As Shweta Khurana, senior director, Global Government Affairs, Intel, clarified to the media: “The initial part of the program focused on training the computer teachers on AI and IoT, where we encouraged them to create lesson plans based on the new technologies. Students are encouraged to learn these technologies at ATL to create projects with social impact and build indigenous solutions.”

Speeding up UN Sustainable Development Goals

The NEP 2020 document mentioned that “mathematics and computational thinking will be given increased emphasis throughout the school years, starting with the Foundational Stage, through a variety of innovative methods, including the regular use of puzzles and games that make mathematical thinking more enjoyable and engaging. Activities involving coding will be introduced in Middle Stage.”

This approachis totally in sync with Global developmental policies. Around the close of last year, UNESCO released a report on the potential use of Artificial intelligence in Indian schools for speeding up the fourth goal of UN Sustainable Development. The fourth goal advocates inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all children. Titled “2022 State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: Artificial Intelligence in Education-Here, There and Everywhere”, the report lists 10 recommendations. It also emphasised that AI-powered adaptive personalised learning platforms in their mother tongues could help students to scale up learning outcome.

However, some experts fear that the digital divide between rural and urban areas in India could stand in the way offully achieving such goals in the Indian education system.

Access the full UNESCO report at:

[To be concluded]

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