In a significant move to address the growing demand for AI and data science skills in India, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has unveiled plans to integrate artificial intelligence courses into the education system, starting as early as Class 6 in schools. A committee, as part of the ‘National Program on Artificial Intelligence (NPAI) Skilling Framework’, has outlined a comprehensive structure for these courses to ensure that students are well-prepared for AI education across the country.
Standardised AI curriculum across educational levels
The committee’s report, issued in June 2023, emphasises the need for AI education at various levels of the education system. The courses will be aligned with the National Higher Education Qualifications Framework and the National Credit Framework, ensuring the standardised approach to AI education across the country.
The panel has stressed the importance of ethics in AI education and has recommended that a minimum of 10% of the course duration be dedicated to ethical considerations. This approach aims to ensure that AI systems are developed and deployed responsibly, promoting transparency, fairness and privacy.
Course development and regulatory guidance
To adapt to the rapidly evolving AI landscape, the report highlights the need for flexibility in creating courses and suggests the development of smaller modules, such as micro-credentials, to keep pace with technological advancements.
Regulatory bodies like the National Council for Vocational Education and Training, All India Council for Technical Education, and University Grants Commission have been tasked with framing guidelines and setting standards for AI education. The University Grants Commission has already posted the reports on its website, www.ugc.gov.in.
Addressing India's growing demand for AI professionals
The move to introduce AI courses at the school level and in undergraduate programs is a response to the skills gap highlighted by a recent NASSCOM report, which found a 51% deficit in the demand and supply of AI and disruptive technology skills.
The curriculum for schools is designed to be age-appropriate, covering fundamental AI concepts, machine learning, data handling, programming, and ethics.
The report also recommends faculty development programs to enhance teachers' understanding of AI concepts and teaching methodologies. Furthermore, AI education is not limited to IT graduates, as the curriculum also includes provisions for non-IT graduates and working professionals.