Thousands of school children across Kerala will be given computer programming kits and trained to write software code under a project designed to create a resource pool of skilled IT professionals and entrepreneurs.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will Saturday launch the pilot phase of the state government's 'Learn to Code' project in Kochi under which 2,500 selected students will be given Raspberry Pi computer programming kits and trained by IT experts to write code.
The Raspberry Pi distribution is the first such project in India and currently the only state-sponsored programme of its kind in the world.
It is being implemented by the Technopark Technology Business Incubator (TTBI) in association with Kerala's IT@School project and Kochi-based mobile internet technology incubator Startup Village.
Computers will also be distributed to the selected students in all districts of the state and the inaugural will be followed by a training session handled by the faculty of IT@School.
It will be telecast live to all district venues of IT@School through the Victers educational channel.
The government under the scheme will distribute 10,000 kits annually to students, primarily in eighth standard, and follow it up with focussed training and mentoring sessions and competitions.
"Information Technology, is one of the growth engines of Kerala's economy and the project has been launched with the long-term goal of making our state a global technology hub in coming years," Industries and IT Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty said.
The TTBI has spent over Rs. 1 crore on procuring the Raspberry Pi kits. Each kit costs Rs. 4,324 and consists of a Raspberry Pi B+ board, enclosure, 8GB SD card, HDMI cable, HDMI-to-VGA cable, USB keyboard and USB mouse.
"We require skilled employees for India to become a manufacturing powerhouse, who can build products for industries such as electronics and ICT. To build these products, we need excellent coders and they are the key to building startups which will turn into billion dollar companies," IT Principal Secretary P.H. Kurian said.
The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a display unit (computer monitor or TV) and uses a standard keyboard and mouse.
It can carry out most functions of a regular desktop, including word processing, playing games and videos, and internet surfing, besides enabling users to learn programming in languages such as Scratch and Python.
The students will first be given basic training and encouraged to experiment with the Pi. Focused coding sessions will start after the examinations in March.
Each student will be assigned a mentor, starting in April to guide them through the learning process.
"We will evaluate the pilot project in six-month time, improve upon it and extend it to more school children," said C. Jayasankar Prasad, TTBI CEO.