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SAP India’s digital literacy initiative “Code Unnati” shares the vision of the International Youth Day theme of Transforming Education

As we celebrate International Youth Day (IYD), a day designated by the United Nations for youth issues, a grim reality is that a large population of children and adolescents in the age group 6-18 yrs lack access to quality education as well as awareness of digital literacy. Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education to all, and that has been exactly SAP’s objective too in its journey of imparting digital literacy in India.

At SAP in India, we significantly focus our CSR activities around learning initiatives aimed at the youth, with special focus on girls. We believe that education has the power to change lives, and is the key agent to meet the other Sustainable Development Goals on health, peace, gender equality. Hence the UN theme of Transforming Education for IYD totally resonates with what SAP India is striving to achieve in India.

Challenges and Opportunities

India, demographically, is one of the youngest nations of the world with 800 million people in the 16-36 age group is that 90 percent of its 1.2 billion population is digitally illiterate. Two thirds of India lives in rural areas where access to digital infrastructure is limited. Also, the country’s diversity and heterogeneity pose problems of delivery too. The scale and volume of intervention needed is challenging.

Thus, there lies the opportunity - Digital Inclusion. The digital connectivity is growing and there is a tremendous hunger for learning. Digital Literacy can be an instrument for inclusive growth. In the digital age, STEM education & digital skills can be delivered virtually, engagingly and seamlessly by harnessing the power of communities and technology.   

When two years ago, we launched Code Unnati, India’s first corporate-to-citizen digital literacy and software skills development initiative, the vision has been to create prosperity & progress (Unnati) has been through the power of collaboration. The path to progress and prosperity, we believed, lay in empowering people, and in collaborating with our customers and the government. Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra & Mahindra, ITC and KEC International joined us in our journey, where we worked with various state governments and India’s NITI Aayog. 


Riding on Partnerships

Under Code Unnati framework, all of us play to our respective strengths. SAP brings in the technology, the curriculum, pedagogy, and the teachers while our partners help with the implementation and monitoring.  The government schools and various governing bodies like village panchayats are the medium of outreach. NGO partners act as the bridge and implementors. 

In just a span of two years, over 500 Code Unnati centres have been set up, 1 million children and adolescents reached, 5000 teachers have been trained  and over 8000 youth have been skilled and made job ready to be part of India’s new digital workforce. Forty two per cent of the youth have already got jobs.

By design 52-55% of beneficiaries of SAP’s code Unnati are young women. We believe that if women are empowered, greater the chances of social change. The challenge was to get girls and women in rural areas into classrooms as in many places they are held back from joining schools and even if they do drop out rates are high. The solution was to take the classroom to the students rather than the other way round.  

Take Rakhi, in Pipla village, Bharatpur who picked up basic computer skills through a mobile literacy van deployed by SAP in her dusty hamlet. Now, she has got a job as a trainer with SAP. Or take Geeta Jairam who has to cut through sugarcane fields in Talasari in Maharashtra to attend school. This young girl joined SAP’s digital literacy program and has become adept at CorelDraw and Photoshop. The young girl now doodles her dreams on artistic software.

Scaling Up

For the country like India, we would be create opportunity for youth only if there is rapid scale and speed in the intervention.

Two years ago when we began, we could not have imagined that we would be able to achieve the scale we have. Starting out in Rajasthan, we have expanded the presence of our programme to 14 states. The scale up was possible because of the model of our programme, which has invested in creating trainers. Employee volunteers have chipped in building software and skilling others so that a massive chain of trainers has been created. The model of delivery is experiential, which leads to faster learning.

The effort throughout has been to impart relevant training, The requirement in India today is for emerging skills like data science, machine learning, deep learning language skills . The skilling programmes such as ‘Yuva Yuga’ in collaboration with the state governments focus on these to ensure the youth are equipped with the latest skill set.

At the Atal Tinkering Labs project of the NITI Aayog, where the objective is to create the next generation of innovators, and where SAP is chipping in, the curriculum includes design thinking to foster creativity.

 It’s still early days, but tech-based training has proved to be a formidable solution. Take the case of Zeriya Aqsha, who joined SAP Code Unnati software training centre in Bhuj and received coaching in not just computers but also English and personality development. Today, she runs her own computer coaching centre in Bhuj, Kutch in the state of Gujarat.

Code Unnati has, thus, become a force multiplier. We hope to see many youth like Zeriya, Rakhi and Geeta emerge in the days ahead and take forward India’s education transformation story. 

We firmly believe that the power of transforming the youth, lies in the scale of initiatives, partnerships and quality inputs. Let's resolve to join hands this International Youth Day towards materializing the dream and vision of transforming education