As the famous Steve Jobs quote goes,

Everybody should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think” 

The NEP has brought some fundamental changes in the educational structure of India. From attempts to move away from rote-learning, inculcating vocational skills in a student and introducing programming as a subject as early as the 6th grade, the NEP proposes some serious changes in the system. Here, we have listed out some of the reasons why the NEP’s decision of introducing coding to children at a young age is an applaudable one. 

Problem Solving Skills Will Improve. 

Perhaps one of the most obvious advantages on this list is that introducing coding to children at such a young age will improve their problem solving skills. Coding and problem solving are highly interrelated, and although the popular portrayal of children coding involves screens and lines of complex numbers, CodeChef has always believed that one can teach young kids to code better with the help of simple puzzles, flowcharts, etc. Solving a programming problem requires some serious thought process along the lines of understanding the problem, breaking down a problem into its sub-parts, devising a suitable plan and verifying results of said plan. And this isn’t just a hunch or “common sense”. A study1 took 18 first graders and pre tested their cognitive style. After that, some subjects were assigned to computer programming and some were assigned to  computer assisted instructions for 12 weeks. Results show that the programming group scored significantly higher on measures of reflectivity and divergent thinking. This proves that programming improves several aspects of cognition which in turn, helps with problem-solving.

Coding Has Positive Effects On The Brain Development Of Children.

Various studies based on pre-test/post-test conditions have proven that coding has a positive effect on the non-verbal cognitive development of young kids. A meta-study2 conducted in 1991 that looked at “the effects of computer programming on cognitive outcomes” found that students with computer programming experience scored 16 percentile points higher on cognitive ability tests than students without. Additionally, various studies have been conducted around the fact that intellectually engaging activities like reading, puzzles, and programming serve to buffer individuals against cognitive decline, meaning that coding helps keep one’s brain health intact and could reduce the risk of illnesses like Alzheimer’s etc. 

Will Help Kids Bring Their Own Ideas To Life. 

Knowing how to code will prove advantageous for students as it will help them bring their own ideas to life. Although, it would require a fair amount of coding knowledge to actually build a successfully running website or a tangible product, it would be a pretty positive experience for a child to see their own innovations come to life. It would also teach them perseverance and patience in carrying out a task they have taken up. More than anything it would help a child with their self-confidence once they see their own creations come to life while knowing the amount of work that went into it. 

Learning Coding Early Will Help Students Perform Better At the IOI. 

Another advantage of learning coding early will be that school students will have the opportunity to show their skills at competitive programming competitions like the International Olympiads in Informatics. Although the second largest Olympiad in the world and recognized by UNESCO, it isn’t as popular in India as the other Olympiads. A large number of parents, students, and teachers aren’t aware of this Olympiad which leads to low levels of participation in the Indian Computing Olympiad. This step will certainly help remedy that and will open up a world of possibilities for the students. The CodeChef for Schools initiative has been focused on this goal ever since the beginning, and we hope that this change means we will see more young talent at the Indian Computing Olympiad as well. 

Coding Is Necessary Even Without Wanting To Be A Software Engineer. 

Naturally, even without actually wanting to be a programmer you would benefit from learning coding as per the above mentioned points. But there are a lot more real-world advantages of learning how to code. In the coming years as the need for coding as a skill on a person’s resume grows, even people in sectors such as finance, retail, and health will benefit from knowing at least the fundamentals. Additionally, knowing some basic technical jargon will prove to be useful in communication and team work. Future entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses would also benefit from knowing how to code, as it would help them cut costs in certain places. 

Better Job Prospects In The Future

Studies have found around 7 million job openings that listed coding as a required skill. They also found that programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average. This very clearly indicates that coding will be a highly sought after skill by the time current students are graduates in the real world, and equipping them with the necessary skills is probably the best approach forward. 

Undoubtedly the NEP is going to be a huge step forward for the coding culture in India. We hope that this move brings out a trove of positive changes and helps kids unlock their full potential as students and coders.  

References

1 Clements, D. H., & Gullo, D. F. (1984). Effects of computer programming on young children’s cognition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(6), 1051–1058.

2 Liao, Y. K. C., & Bright, G. W. (1991). Effects of computer programming on cognitive outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 7(3), 251-268.

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