IT ministry, Google to launch CS First Program

Initiative will introduce computer science knowledge, concepts in children aged 9 to 14


Rizwan Shehzad   April 19, 2020
Initiative will introduce computer science knowledge, concepts in children aged 9 to 14. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication is working with Google to launch a grassroots programme that will equip children with information technology skills and help develop applied coding techniques.

In addition to recent initiatives launched by Google to bring digital skills resources for students and small businesses in Pakistan, the IT ministry and Google will be working together to launch the country’s first grass-root level coding skill development programme in the form of CS First Program in collaboration with Google’s execution partners, Tech Valley.

Ministry of IT, Telecom Foundation, Google and Tech Valley are collaborating to launch the programme with an aim to bring digital skills to underserved communities. CS First, an early age programming initiative by Google for education, is currently being used by thousands of teachers and millions of students in over 75 countries.

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The programme aims to introduce computer science knowledge and concepts in children between the ages of nine and 14. The larger ambition is for the youth of the country to be digitally equipped with IT skills to lead the next generation of technological pioneers and developers.

The students will learn the basics of programming through modern techniques like gamification and methods like scenario-based development or storytelling using a

specialised platform researched and developed by researchers at MIT called “Scratch”. Apart from games, the programme will rely on other fun activities to help kids learn CS concepts and develop a coding orientated mindset.

Tech Valley, as an official execution partner for Google in Pakistan, will be responsible for the complete delivery of the programme by initially conducting “Train the Trainer” for teachers in Pakistan’s three major cities – Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.

The teachers will get an extensive overview of what the programme is all about and a run-through training for the students so that they get comfortable with the learning and deliverance.

Speaking on behalf of IT ministry, Federal Secretary Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui shared his delight on the programme and said “though we are in a difficult time and doing our best to fight a global pandemic, we are aiming that the CS First Program is just the stepping stone in making Pakistan digitally enabled”.

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Umar Farooq, CEO Tech Valley Pakistan said “we have been working with Google in Pakistan since 2017. We want to help the youth of this country to better understand the importance of digital skills and realize the dream of a digital Pakistan.”

“My team and I are looking forward to getting started with the programme as this is the right time when every school is looking towards digital solutions to carry out their classes and work,” he said.

The first phase of the programme will be carried out in telecom foundation schools with a pilot in 3 institutes located in major cities of the country and then expanding to 13 schools.

Subsequently, the next phase will involve bigger cohorts to cover different schools and educational institutes. The programme will also assist the telecom foundation schools in developing an integrated curriculum for adopting the course on a continuous basis.

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