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Indian school board to introduce AI as a subject

Students studying in schools that follow the Indian educational board CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), may be able to study artificial intelligence as an elective subject.

With progress being made in the areas of AI and machine learning and their growing involvement in daily applications, it is important that school boards develop curriculums to keep up with global trends.

A member of the CBSE board said that the decision to introduce artificial intelligence as a skill subject was made at a recent meeting of the board’s governing body. They decided that the subject would be introduced in grades 8, 9 and 10 as an elective subject.

The syllabus for the new subject will be drafted for all the three classes and, if required, the board will also develop the capacity building of schools for the teaching and learning of the subject from the next academic session.

The idea to introduce AI into CBSE curriculum was the result of a session held by the country’s Policy Commission (the National Institution for Transforming India).The board held consultations with stakeholders, including a school that was already teaching the subject. Consequently, it decided to include AI as an optional subject.

The CBSE has 20,299 schools in India and 220 schools in 25 other countries affiliated to it.

Although the board will introduce the subject, it is up to the schools to provide AI-trained teachers to teach it to the students. In 2017, during a national workshop on school education in New Delhi, the Human Resource Development Minister said the day is not far when all classrooms across the country will have access to digital blackboards.

The Ministry’s plan to equip schools (many of them in remote areas without basic amenities) with technology falls in line with the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government’s vision to harness digital power to push for India’s overall development.

At the workshop, the Minister said that these tools alone cannot improve the state of education in public schools unless the State ensures that basic requirements are met. These include infrastructure (classrooms and toilets), higher quality textbooks, and well-trained teachers.

He added that there are 1.1 million untrained teachers in the workforce. Less than 6% of the 700,000 teacher education programme candidates, who appeared for the September 2014 Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) conducted by the CBSE, passed the exam.

To remedy this, the Ministry introduced several schemes including a four-year B.Ed (Bachelor of Education) course for aspiring teachers as well as removing the TET (Teacher Eligibility Test) examinations required to become a teacher in certain states with low-teacher density.

When it comes to AI education it is vital that teachers in the field are digitally literate and equipped with AI learning as an application tool as well as a theoretical subject.

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