CHENNAI: Amazon Future Engineer (AFE), a flagship global computer science education program by Amazon, has completed one year in India. Amazon has supported more than 4.5 Lakh students from over 3000 government schools across 11 states to explore and learn computer science through interactive digital and in-person learning interventions. These students in grades 3 to 12, are primarily from low-income families and lack the resources to study computer science or the opportunities to learn about careers that exist in the technology industry. In its first year, the program also supported 200 girls from low-income families with scholarships to pursue computer science education.
With support from Amazon, students embark on their computer science learning journey with interactive and practical content which is delivered to students and their educators by AFE partner non-profits. AFE has also set up around 70 AFE labs where children learn to code and also to build live projects using physical computing components like raspberry PIs and sensors. These labs combined with digital assets enable schools to provide a holistic learning experience to their students by experimenting with computers and technology. For AFE Scholars, Amazon provides each student a sum of INR 1.6 lakh over four years along with mentorship from Amazonians and bootcamp-style courses to build a successful tech career.
“Amazon Future Engineer was launched in India with the aim of democratizing computer science education so that every child has the potential to become creators and not just consumers of technology. Since the launch of AFE, we have been striving, along with our partner organizations, to support systemic integration of computer science education in government schools in multiple states,” said Anita Kumar, Head – Amazon in the Community, CSR India & APAC. “We provide computer science learning avenues which include interactive learning content based on real-world application of Computer Science (CS) in local languages, curated curriculum for schools, courses for teachers in CS, additional recourse person to teach CS and bridge infrastructure gaps where possible. Through these initiatives, we believe that we will be able to inspire young people to build their best future through quality computer science education, while building a diverse and inclusive tech industry,” added, Anita.
Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Hon’ble Minister of State in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; and Electronics and Information Technology, said, “Post Covid, the rapid rate of digitalization across the globe offers tremendous opportunities for India and Young Indians. Prime Minister Modi has envisioned the coming decade as India’s Techade – one that would be driven by young Indians. Our Government is fully committed to empowering its citizens with industry-relevant skills and job opportunities through various skilling, upskilling, and re-skilling programs – with a special focus on Digital Skills. I appreciate Amazon India’s Future Engineer Program, which provides our underprivileged students with relevant training and skillsets through government schools. I wish them all the very best in continuing this program and strengthening Prime Minister Modi Ji’s vision of New India and Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayaas.”
Amazon has now opened registrations for the 2023 scholarship. In its second year, the number of scholarships has been increased to 500 with the last date to submit the scholarship application being 31st December 2022. Girl students who have already gained admission into an Engineering college through a central or state-level entrance exam and have a total household annual income of INR 3 Lakh or less, are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
Apart from India, AFE program has been supporting computer science education for more than a million children and young adults from underrepresented communities in USA, the UK, France and Canada. The program follows a multi-pronged approach of creating an enabling ecosystem by building the capacities of the students as well as teachers along with developing the infrastructure of the schools.
AFE provides Computer Science Explore activities such as ‘Hour-of-Code’ and ‘Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge’ to introduce students to the basics of computer science in an interactive and fun way. The students are also offered deeper computer science learning opportunities like ‘Code-a-Thon’ – a project-based structured boot camp for learning hands on coding and advanced courses on Robotics, Computer Aided Design and Web Design. AFE is also creating digital computer science learning apps like ‘code-Mitra’ and ‘Meraki’ that enable students to learn computer science on mobile devices, often without internet, in their own languages. To present students an early understanding of the wide variety of careers available in the tech industry, Amazon runs “Class Chats” for the students. Amazon employee volunteers deliver Class Chats to spark curiosity among school students, by discussing their career, and learnings from their journey and help students not only understand various careers in the tech industry, but also how to get there.
AFE is also enabling educators to teach computer science in a more engaging way and build 21st-century skills in their students. To facilitate this, AFE, in collaboration with various government bodies and non-profits, offers training and coding courses to teachers who want to take computer science to their classrooms.
Participating in one such teacher training session, Surekha Kunjir, Teacher, Pimple Nilakh School, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Pune, Maharashtra, said, “Earlier, I knew little about the concepts like algorithms and sequencing. This teacher training course has provided me with a broader lens to understand how these concepts are extremely useful for the students and can help students to learn coding in creative ways. Apart from learning to code, the idea is to developing logical thinking and design thinking in students that is emphasized by the technology industry as well. This teacher training course has helped me in understanding these concepts to code and I am integrating these in my subjects. My apprehension about coding is now fading away and even the students are thoroughly enjoying and benefiting from this learning experience.”
Amazon Future Engineer is a computer science education program that allows all young people to explore their potential and build a better world for us all. As a childhood-to-career program, AFE offers programming that starts with primary schooling and continues through secondary into career. Throughout, Amazon partners with organizations that share its mission and create opportunities for students to discover the richness of computer science through intersections with self-expression, social justice, sustainability and more.
Amazon introduced the AFE in India in 2021 and has partnered with several education-focused non-profit organizations including Leadership for Equity, Learning Links Foundation, Pi Jam Foundation, American India Foundation, Code.org, Educational Initiatives, Peepul, The Innovation Story, NavGurukul and Foundation for Excellence; to engage with students and provide them critical learning opportunities. Through this extensive partner network, Amazon has also engaged with key government bodies, policymakers, teachers and the management of thousands of government schools to implement the AFE program in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.