Digital literacy and computing in India

In today’s world, digital literacy and computing skills are essential, and serve as a gateway to coding and computational thinking. In India, there is a pressing need to bridge the gap in ICT skills among youth.

According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report for 2020-21, only a small percentage of young people possess the ability to write computer programs using specialised programming languages.

Recognising this challenge, the third National Education Policy of India, launched in 2020, emphasised the integration of digital literacy, coding, and computational thinking into the curriculum starting from grade 6. There is now a growing acceptance of computing programs for children, like extracurricular or after-school activities in the form of Code Clubs, in the school as well as community.

Four girls looking at two computer screens working on Scratch projects.

History of Code Clubs in India

The Raspberry Pi Foundation had also recognised the need for young people to access ways to learn computing skills, so work in India started in 2018 with one team member, Divya Joseph running the show. By the end of that year, there were 150+ Code Clubs across the country through partnerships and volunteers. In 2019, our team expanded when Vasu joined — and from then, we have never looked back! We partnered with Pratham Foundation and the number of Code Clubs went up to 350+.

The pandemic was a difficult time for most of our clubs — learners and supporters alike. The engagement then was continued through online hackathons and community calls.

In 2022, our team grew to six people, and we started teacher training and registering Code Clubs based in government high schools of Odisha — one of the eastern states. We presently have over 1,100 active Code Clubs.

Learning through the years

While Code Clubs typically run in schools, we realised that the model in India was going to be a unique one. Organisations like Pratham Education Foundation work with out-of-school children and facilitate learning in community centres based in remote villages. Their needs are completely different from what we have experienced before. 

A rural building in India, painted blue with Code Club posters hanging outside.

Fostering a warm and supportive environment for both teachers and students is at the heart of Code Club’s mission. We reached out to the community to understand their situation better because we knew we had to adapt quickly to cater to our community’s needs. 

One such community-focused initiative is “Coding Pe Charcha,” a voluntary session conducted every Friday. The phrase “Coding Pe Charcha” translates to “Discussions over Coding.” Conducted entirely in the local language, Odia, this session is specifically designed for teachers who have been trained and assisted in setting up Code Clubs in government high schools.

To have teachers voluntarily join these sessions week after week, despite their non-computing background and other ground level challenges, points to genuine interest in the area of computing. Interacting with these teachers also enlightens us to their specific support needs — from very basic digital literacy skills, like changing passwords and getting over infrastructural challenges, to using resources which come in English and are prepared for a global audience.

Another community-driven initiative is the “Come together to Learn together” (CTLT) calls. Code Club has always prioritised community engagement, regularly organising quarterly meetups and workshops for community members, some of which are led by the community itself. These gatherings feature panel discussions centred around a chosen theme relevant to their current needs.

Topics have ranged from “Computational Thinking through Offline Activities” to “Introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico.” These calls have consistently attracted approximately 120+ participants, actively involving community members and placing them at the heart of Code Club’s work.

A screenshot of some code being shown as part of a webinar.

Impact of Code Clubs

The impact of Code Clubs in India has been substantial and transformative. Through partnerships with organisations like Mo School Abhiyan (Odisha government) at the school level and Pratham Foundation at the community level, Code Clubs have reached over 32,000 students in high schools across Odisha, with an impressive 54% of them being girls. These Code Clubs serve as a crucial first step for many students in their digital learning journey. 

Suchitra Bhuyan, a Code Club teacher from Brundavan Govt. High School in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha, shares her experience saying, “When I work on coding with my students, I myself feel like a student. Sometimes I learn from them, and sometimes they learn from me. So we, the teachers and students, learn together and create together. When we succeed in creating something, the happiness on their faces is truly heart-touching.”

Five women standing in a row with their thumbs up. Behind them is a screen showing Scratch.

What next?

Looking ahead, Code Club’s focus remains on engaging and supporting existing clubs, partners, volunteers, and teachers. While coding education in India is still in its early stages, particularly among disadvantaged groups, Code Club is determined to expand its reach and empower more children with digital literacy and computing skills. By fostering a warm, community-centric approach and placing the people behind the impact at the forefront, Code Club continues to make a difference in the lives of countless young learners across India.

Through some inspiring people on the ground running these Code Clubs, we are trying to build a community of coding learners and supporters. Do you wish to support us in any of the already running Code Clubs? Do you wish to start a Code Club in your community? Reach out to us at:

Cool and creative, meet Azmat the superhero from Kashmir

Azmat (16) is inspiring her peers to get involved in coding! Vasu, Programme Coordinator for Code Club India,  met with Azmat virtually to learn about her coding journey; her participation in Coolest Projects; and how,  as she gets older, computing features in her life. 

Code Club India member, Azmat.

Meet Azmat!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Azmat, I am 16 years old and I live in Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir, in India. I have been going to the Pi Jam Code Club which is held in my local school for 1.5 years.

What skills have you gained from attending Code Club? 

All our [Code Club] sessions start with a problem statement, and we use a problem-solving approach and then [we] use computers to solve it.

Now for any problem that comes to me, I do not directly jump to any solutions. I sketch [and] imagine a lot before creating anything.

What’s your favourite Code Club project and why?

I love the Scratch project Flappy parrot. It reminds me of simpler times, and all the kids in my area really enjoyed it when I made it. 

Tell us a Code Club memory (big or small) that you’re proud of?

When my project [Covid Helpline website] was selected for Coolest Projects, it definitely has to be that. 

My life kind of took a turn after that. I was called to the Red FM 93.5 office [a local Indian radio channel] for an interview! I cherish that memory a lot. It was my first time ever representing myself on such a big platform. 

Azmat at Red FM 93.5

Since the radio office was in Srinagar and I live in Sopore, it was also not easy to convince my parents to let me go for an interview,  but as luck would have it, I convinced them!  

How has coding and learning about computers benefited your life?

Learning about computers and computer programming has helped me to think creatively. 

When my project [Covid Helpline website] was selected in Coolest Projects, I got a lot of opportunities to share my experiences on various platforms, which boosted my confidence. 

Girls in younger grades in my school now look up to me and they also want to join Pi Jam classes!

Can you share why you decide to take part in Coolest Projects? 

I created a lot of projects with my friends and I was excited to know that I would get a chance to submit my creation with so many [other] students across so many different countries. 

What inspired your 2021 Coolest Projects idea? 

There were lots of people around my community suffering, facing the problem of not finding [COVID-19] accurate information, details about the right hospital, and the availability of different services. I wanted to help them, and decided to create a website.

How did you feel seeing your project featured in the Coolest Projects online showcase? 

I was so happy as I was one of many students from India who got a chance to share their experience online with so many people from across the world!

What are you looking forward to most about Coolest Projects Global 2022? 

I have already started preparing for Coolest Projects Global 2022, as I started around this time last year as well. I am focussing on my problem statement and I am excited to see how my project shapes up.

If someone was thinking about taking part in Coolest Projects Global, what would you say to them? 

It’s a wonderful opportunity, do not miss the chance!

Our last question! Looking to the future, how do you see computing featuring in your life? 

Inspiring more girls in my community to learn [about] computer science!

Azmat attends a Code Club run by the Pi Jam Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to equip children and educators in India with access to affordable technology and computer science education that fosters essential skills like problem-solving and design thinking. 

Be like Azmat and get involved with this year’s global online showcase.

Wherever you are in the world, invite your Code Club members to get creative and take part in Coolest Projects Global 2022!

Ms Usha’s reflections on her journey as a Code Club India educator

Ms Usha, an IT professional and now Code Club educator shares what inspired her to set up a Code Club, how it is helping learners to gain new skills, and why it is important to empower girls to explore digital making!

Ms Usha

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work and live in Dubai as an IT professional, but grew up in Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India. I am a tech enthusiast and believe that it can change people’s lives.

The opportunity was given to me to leave Andhra Pradesh and explore my career options. I wanted to give that chance — that opportunity — to those children in my old village, which was my motivator to go back and set up a Code Club.

 I wanted a chance to learn something new and expand my own skills.

Each week, I run my club online from Dubai and have sixty plus club members attending via the local school in Andhra Pradesh.

What inspired you to volunteer for Code Club?

I learned about Scratch when volunteering with the Ministry of Education AI series, in the UAE [in] 2019. The projects created by the students impressed me and encouraged me to learn to code.

I had the assumption that coding wasn’t meant for children and that they wouldn’t understand complicated concepts. After looking at Scratch and the Code Club projects and resources — I thought to myself “Why can’t they?”, rather “Why can’t I?”.

Learning never ends, one should be a student for life!

I decided to start a club in Andhra Pradesh, as I wanted to develop the skills and bring out the hidden talents of the children within that community.

What skills can children gain with Code Club?

With technology comes freedom of expression and the chance for children to set out and achieve something on their own.

In doing so, they face challenges that they must work through to reach their goals. Coding helps them to establish a strong sense of perseverance and encourages learners to come up with their own solutions.

They can use these skills in computing, or outside of it — in the form of homework issues, disagreements with friends, or other personal hardship they may face.

Why is it important to empower girls to explore digital making?

Girls still face many barriers when exploring computing and digital making opportunities. From gender discrimination [and] language difficulties to low literacy and lack of funding.

There are many hidden skills gained through computing, including problem-solving, teamwork, and self-motivation which will support girls with their future education.

Programmes like Code Club also help to improve literacy and education and is another way to help girls reach their potential.

Can you share what you enjoy most about running a Code Club?

Learners at Code Club have a positive attitude about learning new things. I enjoy seeing their creativity and imagination come to life through code, they support each other even if it’s online. Sometimes, I can struggle with the local language, but students jump in and help me out, whilst supporting each other.

Has Ms Usha inspired you to set up a Code Club? Take a look at our website or contact the Code Club India team at