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

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

Although CBSE is going all out to introduce emerging technologies as skill subjects in the school curricula, other school boards are trying hard to catch up

CBSE races ahead with a well-planned approach

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has, by far, devised the most elaborate and planned curricula for introducing emerging technologies at the foundational and secondary school level right from the 2022-2023 session (as the pilot phase). And they have allowed for ample scope of hands-on teaching, totally departing from traditional theory-based approach that had so long bugged computer textbooksfor schools.

The CBSE curriculum document for Artificial Intelligence leaves no ambiguity in its intention to impart job-readiness early while introducing AI at schools. It clearlymentions: “This course is a planned sequence of instructions consisting of units meant for developing employability and vocational competencies of students of Class IX opting for skill subject along with other education subjects.”

The stated curriculum objective focuses on the following:

  • Helping learners understand the world of Artificial Intelligence and its applications through games, activities and multi-sensorial learning to become AI-Ready.
  • Introducing the learners to three domains of AI in an age-appropriate manner.
  • Allowing the learners to construct meaning of AI through interactive participation and engaging hands-on activities.
  • Introducing the learners to AI Project Cycle.
  • Introducing the learners to programming skills – Basicpython coding language.

The AI course curricula for both classes IX and X has been split into the following three parts:

The curriculum document also enumerates the qualifications and competenciesexpected of teachers/trainers for teaching these new-age subjects. This includes Diploma/Degree in Computer Applications/Computer Science/ Information Technology, PGDCA, or DOEACC A Level certification.

CISCE has a solid partner in IHFC

CBSE had started early and – being totallyaligned to central government policies – is naturally in sync with theNational Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Although not as quick to pick up speed, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE)had expressed its intent only last year to introduce subjects like robotics, Artificial Intelligence (Al), Machine Learning (ML) and data science at ICSE (Classes 9 and 10) and ISC (Classes 11 and 12) levels.

In April 2022, CISCE signed a memorandum of understanding with I-Hub Foundation for Cobotics (IHFC) to design curriculum in upcoming technologies for school levels. Their target was to have students appear for final exams in these new subjects at ICSE in 2025 and at ISC in 2026.The IHFC works in the area of Collaborative Robotics (COBOTICS) and has been set up as the technology innovation hub of IIT Delhi by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, under its National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS).

Only last week, on 10 June 2023, the CISCE board has written to affiliated schools outlining theguidelines for recruitment of teachers for AI and robotics – to be introduced fromthis academic session (2023-24).According to a notice sent by CISCE to its affiliated schools, the prospective teachers should have either a B.Tech, M.Sc or B.Scin Computer Science or a mechanical engineering degree. Schools that plan to introduce these subjects will also have to upgrade their computer labs accordingly.

UP Secondary Board a surprise contender

As per recent media reports, the Secondary Education Board of Uttar Pradesh has sent ripples through the academic world by introducing very unusual and cutting-edge subjects at the school level – even by global education standards. While designing a new state syllabus based on the new NEP 2020 guidelines, the UP Education Board has aimed to directly cater to the needs of the industry. The resultant curricula contain some bold moves that prioritize modern tech education over outdated information. Following are the highlights:

  • Programming concepts, computer communication, and networking will now be taught in Class IX instead of Class X.
  • The Class X curriculum will now cover e-governance and the fundamentals of preventing hacking, phishing, and cyber frauds.
  • Crypto and drone technologies will be in the syllabus for Classes IX through XII.
  • Class XI curriculum will contain Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, and Cloud computing.
  • Robotics has been added to the Class XII curriculum.
  • Traditional C++ and HTML programming courses have been replaced with coding languages such as Python and Java.

These are significant inclusions and industry experts have welcomed this initiative. They believe that if this curriculum can be executed as envisaged, it can be ground-breaking. These 21st century topics will help students become more competitive and market-ready.

WB looks at AI for educational governance

The West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education has introduced AI and Data Science in classes XI and XIIfrom the current academic session (2023-2024) and the first batch will sit for the HS exams in 2025.

In a slightly different approach, the WB state education department is also planning to use artificial intelligence for good governance of schools. A task force to explore the possibility of using generative Artificial Intelligence or AI based-tools in the education system has been formed by the state higher education department.

[Concluded]

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