Making AI Learning Easy: A Call for a National Program in India
If India wants to shine in the world of AI, it must sow the seeds of innovation in its youth. We urgently need an AI skill development program.
Imagine being a student and worrying about finding a job because AI seems to be taking over. This concern isn't limited to college-goers but spans from school kids to engineering graduates. Many are anxious about their job prospects because subjects like AI and analytics are not part of their curriculum. Essentially, they're studying for jobs that may not exist.
The problem deepens as not everyone can afford online courses to enhance their skills. A significant portion of fresh graduates is skilled but struggles to secure employment, aggravated by major IT companies freezing hiring for newcomers.
To tackle this, India needs to sow the seeds of innovation, especially among its youth. It begins with teaching students the basics of AI, making it a tool rather than something to fear. The solution lies in implementing a national-level AI skill development program.
Acknowledging the urgency, there's hope that the government recognizes this need. Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy suggests an annual investment of at least $1 billion for the next two decades. This would boost the National Education Policy (NEP), a step in the right direction according to Murthy.
To bridge the gap between research and production, Murthy proposes recruiting 10,000 retired teachers for a 'Train the Teacher' program, costing $1 billion annually for 20 years. This aims to produce skilled trainers who can, in turn, educate the masses.
PM Narendra Modi's NEP is praised for promoting innovation, focusing not only on employees but also on primary and secondary education. The policy suggests training teachers in AI and design thinking, integrating AI solutions through DIKSHA, an AI-enabled digital infrastructure portal.
AI as a subject is already introduced in classes 9 and 11 by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The NISHTHA and Integrated Teacher Education (ITEP) program is ensuring educators are equipped for this shift.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) collaborates with companies like Salesforce, Adobe, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Meta, and AWS to upskill students in AI. Partnerships aim to train millions of students and teachers by 2027.
The fear of AI replacing jobs is real among students. To ease this fear, incorporating AI tools into the curriculum is crucial. The MoE is actively working towards this, partnering with various companies for upskilling initiatives.
During the pandemic, schools faced disruption, and when they reopened, the AI race began. Students returned to hear about AI job replacements without adequate knowledge. Teachers, too, were unfamiliar with the technology, creating an AI chaos.
In simple terms, the idea is to embed AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard as assistants in students' education from an early age. Let them experiment, understand the technology's limitations, and adapt to it. This approach prepares them for the future job market, making AI learning an integral part of their education journey.