Amazon on Tuesday announced the launch of its global computer science (CS) education programme - Amazon Future Engineer (AFE) - in India, that will enable access to quality CS education and career opportunities for students from underrepresented and underserved communities.
In the first year of its launch, Amazon aims to enable and deliver CS learning opportunities to more than one lakh students from 900 government and aided schools across seven states in India.
Amazon will partner with multiple education-focused non-profit organisations to take quality CS education to the students of government schools across Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Telangana.
"The ubiquitous nature of computer science has made it a critical skill in the employment landscape. Early access to computer science education will go a long way in providing India's youth the opportunity to build their best future," Amit Agarwal, Global Senior Vice President and Country Head, Amazon India said at a virtual event.
He added that lack of quality course content on an accessible medium, limited availability of advanced learning content in local language and lack of a role model are some of the barriers that prevent the youth from underrepresented and underserved communities to dream of aspirational CS careers.
"We are cognizant of this divide – and that while talent and passion is spread across all young people, opportunity is not. With Amazon Future Engineer, we aim to address exactly this gap by providing early exposure and access to CS education," Agarwal said.
He noted that through AFE, Amazon has enabled CS opportunities for more than a million young people across four countries – the US, the UK, Canada and France.
Agarwal added that the company will continue to collaborate with government and non-government organisations to enable CS education in India from childhood to career by leveraging various growth opportunities and its expertise in technology.
In India, the new initiative will primarily focus on students in grades 6-12, and will also train teachers and educators to teach computer science in a more engaging way.
Peepul India founder and CEO Kruti Bharucha said the organisation has been working with government school systems over the past several years and has seen how providing equitable learning opportunities can transform not just the lives of their students, but of families and teachers around them.
"Critical thinking and problem-solving skills acquired by learning CS have the potential to break opportunity barriers for underprivileged children in India," she added.
Amazon is working with its global knowledge partner Code.org, a global non-profit organisation dedicated to computer science education, to bring high quality and mobile interactive CS content to Indian students.
"We look forward to working closely with AFE's network of partners in India to provide our high-quality CS curriculum and best practices as they enable students across the country to learn this foundational 21st-century subject,” Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org, said.
Taking the local nuances into account, the curriculum has been contextualised for the Indian teacher and student community in government school settings, and will offer students coding fundamentals along with future-focused tech courses like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (Voice Technology) in Indian languages.
Initiatives will include "Class Chats" through which students meet Amazonians to understand tech industry careers, and "Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge", where students learn programming basics while coding robots and discover how Amazon uses robotics to deliver millions of products around the globe.Over the next few years, Amazon India will continue to scale the programme and expand the bouquet of CS-related education offerings in India. AFE will also amplify its support to students through scholarships, internships, problem-solving hackathon events, and targeted mentorship programmes.