Hindustan Times recently concluded the second edition of HT Code-a-thon, a coding Olympiad, which was launched in August 2021.
The initiative aims to build the next generation of coders, through a virtual platform. While India has no dearth of coders, coding for kids is still novel and nascent, although that is the age where the skills necessary for coding such as problem-solving and logical thinking need to be developed.
Hindustan Times Code-a-thon won the award for “Best in South Asia” at the 2021 ‘Global Media Awards’, hosted by the International News Media Association (INMA).
HT Code-a-thon is a platform that enables students to learn coding in a fun and engaging way, develop projects, and participate and win in a coding competition that rewards the toppers with prizes like laptops, tablets and smartwatches.
The 2021 event saw participation from 2,200+ schools and 25,000+ students. The students learned programming languages such as Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python and built projects using these languages.
“It goes without saying that coding is a very important skill set for students in the 21st century”, said Rajeev Beotra, Executive Director, HT Media. “HT Code-a-thon is a one-of-a-kind program that encourages students to learn coding in a fun and competitive environment. Coding helps a student in multiple ways. It improves their problem-solving skills, fosters creativity and helps in the enhancement of their logical thinking process. Therefore, HT Code-a-thon provides an opportunity to all the students to be future ready. I’d like to wish all these bright, young students all the very best for their future endeavours. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners – SpeEdLabs, IBM, Intel and Lufthansa – for their contribution in making HT Code-a-thon 2021 a great success”, he added.
This year’s edition of HT Code-a-thon saw its closure with an online felicitation ceremony where the winners were announced in the presence of a panel comprising of honourable representatives from the Government Of India and bureaucracy to stalwarts from leading private companies.
Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, said, “Two years ago we’ve launched the New Education Policy, which is simply the most important education reform since independence. It integrates vocational training into the educational curriculum. This helps build among our younger generation, the capability to address the emerging opportunities in the rapid digital transformation across the globe. Our youngsters can play a big role in filling the opportunities emerging across the digital transformation spectrum. In that context, coding skills are a very important part of the basket of abilities of our youngsters going into the future. So, I’m glad that leading brands like Hindustan Times is conducting something like the HT Code-a-thon where youngsters are demonstrating capabilities that I could never imagine children of their age to do so. Those who have participated in the HT Code-a-thon are on the right track and have picked up on the right thing to do in terms of the future opportunities.”
Vinayak Garg, Comissioner, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, said, “I’m happy that Navodaya Vidyalaya has participated in the HT Code-a-thon. It is a very good initiative taken by Hindustan Times to instil the skills of coding among the children. Coding has been identified as one of the most important skills in the NEP also and it is important to prepare the students for their future growth in the 21st century. Navodaya Vidyalaya is already preparing the students, especially from the rural and disadvantaged sections of the society, for the future growth of the nation. In this program, the Department of Science and Technology has also started the program of Vigyan Jyoti which is promoting the STEM education among 5,000 girls. This is a very good initiative by the Department of Science and Technology and we’re thankful to IBM and other partners for promoting STEM education among girls. I’m hopeful that through the initiatives by Department of Science and Technology and with the support of programs like HT Code-a-thon, more and more girl students will learn about STEM and contribute to the growth of the nation.
Vivek Varshney, Founder, SpeEdLabs, emphasized on the importance of learning coding, he said, “Coding is going to be the language of the future. Five years down the line, 90% of jobs will require some kind of computing skills. A basic understanding of coding is very important for each individual to perform and innovate. Coding is not just about writing codes; it is more about thinking how to solve a problem, asking the right questions and making the right assumptions”, he said.
Manoj Balachandran, Head, CSR, IBM India and South Asia, explained how IBM’s vision to enable students to prepare for the tech-driven future led to their partnership with HT Code-a-thon. “Our association with Hindustan Times happened as a result of our long-term vision of enabling kids to be prepared for the inevitable future of tech. Not everybody would need to know how to code but even for those professions that don’t need to know coding, it is important to know how to utilise technology. This was demonstrated by how almost every profession adopted technology during the pandemic. That’s why programs like HT Code-a-thon make such a huge difference. We truly believe that such programs and interventions to address skill gaps go a long way to shape the nation’s Digital India and Skill India mission and can make Atmanirbhar Bharat a reality. I wish to really thank the Hindustan Times team for this partnership and for really making an impact at a scalable level”, he said.
Deepali Naair, Chief Marketing Officer, IBM India and South Asia, elaborated upon IBM’s STEM For Girls initiative, by saying, “STEM For Girls is one of IBM’s largest CSR initiatives. It aims at driving young students towards technology and digital literacy. Our program at IBM plans to prepare 2,00,000 girls across 12 states in India to pursue and understand their potential in “New Collar” careers. These girl students will be from 120 districts from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. I’m very happy to report that 1,80,000 girls are already a part of this program. Not just that, we even have 85,000 boys from these 12 states as part of this program. The program actually looks at holistic development of the girls’ ecosystem. It’s not just the coding that’s important and therefore we’ve also trained 8,000+ teachers.”