2nd edition of HT Code-a-thon concludes, sees 25K+ registrations

Technology today has become a way of life, making coding an extremely important skill to possess in order to thrive in this competitive era. Hindustan Times launched HT Code-a-thon 2021; the second edition of one of India’s biggest coding Olympiads, in August 2021. Hindustan Times Code-a-thon is an initiative imagined and executed end-to-end in the middle of the pandemic to build the next generation of coders, through a virtual platform. While India has no dearth of coders, coding for kids is still novel and nascent, although that is the age where the skills necessary for coding such as problem-solving & logical thinking need to be developed.

Hindustan Times Code-a-thon won the award for “Best in South Asia” at the 2021 ‘Global Media Awards’, hosted by the International News Media Association (INMA)

HT Code-a-thon is a platform that enables students to learn coding in a fun and engaging way, develop projects, and participate and win in a coding competition that rewards the toppers with exciting prizes like laptops, tablets and smartwatches.

HT Code-a-thon 2021 saw massive participation from 2,200+ schools and 25,000+ students. The students learned programming languages such as Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python and built projects using these languages.

Developing critical thinking, logic building and problem solving skills is where HT Code-a-thon plays an important role in a student’s learning journey. “It goes without saying that coding is a very important skill set for students in the 21st century”, says Rajeev Beotra, Executive Director, HT Media Limited. “HT Code-a-thon is a one-of-a-kind program that encourages students to learn coding in a fun and competitive environment. Coding helps a student in multiple ways. It improves their problem solving skills, fosters creativity and helps in the enhancement of their logical thinking process. Therefore, HT Code-a-thon provides an opportunity to all the students to be future ready. I’d like to wish all these bright, young students all the very best for their future endeavours. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners – SpeEdLabs, IBM, Intel and Lufthansa – for their contribution in making HT Code-a-thon 2021 a great success”, he adds.

This year’s edition of HT Code-a-thon saw its closure with a grand online felicitation ceremony where the winners were announced in the presence of an esteemed panel comprising of honourable representatives from the Government Of India and bureaucracy to stalwarts from leading private companies.

Speaking at the event, Shri Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, said, “Two years ago we’ve launched the New Education Policy, which is simply the most important education reform since independence. It integrates vocational training into the educational curriculum. This helps build among our younger generation, the capability to address the emerging opportunities in the rapid digital transformation across the globe. Our youngsters can play a big role in filling the opportunities emerging across the digital transformation spectrum. In that context, coding skills are a very important part of the basket of abilities of our youngsters going into the future. So, I’m glad that leading brands like Hindustan Times is conducting something like the HT Code-a-thon where youngsters are demonstrating capabilities that I could never imagine children of their age to do so. Those who have participated in the HT Code-a-thon are on the right track and have picked up on the right thing to do in terms of the future opportunities.”

Mr. Vinayak Garg, Comissioner, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti also expressed his thoughts saying, “I’m happy that Navodaya Vidyalaya has participated in the HT Code-a-thon. It is a very good initiative taken by Hindustan Times to instil the skills of coding among the children. Coding has been identified as one of the most important skills in the NEP also and it is important to prepare the students for their future growth in the 21st century. Navodaya Vidyalaya is already preparing the students, especially from the rural and disadvantaged sections of the society, for the future growth of the nation. In this program, the Department of Science and Technology has also started the program of Vigyan Jyoti which is promoting the STEM education among 5,000 girls. This is a very good initiative by the Department of Science and Technology and we’re thankful to IBM and other partners for promoting STEM education among girls. I’m hopeful that through the initiatives by Department of Science and Technology and with the support of programs like HT Code-a-thon, more and more girl students will learn about STEM and contribute to the growth of the nation.

Mr. Vivek Varshney, Founder, SpeEdLabs emphasized on the importance of learning coding. “Coding is going to be the language of the future. 5 years down the line, 90% of jobs will require some kind of computing skills. A basic understanding of coding is very important for each individual to perform and innovate. Coding is not just about writing codes; it is more about thinking how to solve a problem, asking the right questions and making the right assumptions”, he said. He also noted how the vision of SpeEdLabs found a synergy with HT Code-a-thon and made the partnership a very natural one. “SpeEdlabs’ vision is completely aligned with the vision of HT Code-a-thon, which is building the right learning habits at the right age. The teenage years have the highest impact on our life trajectory. It is the time when we can build a lot of right learning habits. So my advice to all the students who participated in HT Code-a-thon and also their parents is to encourage the students to build a sense of curiosity, ask the right questions, figure out how to solve a problem and then use coding to automate the solution and make it scalable”, he added.

Mr. Manoj Balachandran, Head, CSR, IBM India and South Asia explained how IBM’s vision to enable students to prepare for the tech-driven future led to their partnership with HT Code-a-thon. “Our association with Hindustan Times happened as a result of our long term vision of enabling kids to be prepared for the inevitable future of tech. Not everybody would need to know how to code but even for those professions that don’t need to know coding, it is important to know how to utilize technology. This was demonstrated by how almost every profession adopted technology during the pandemic. That’s why programs like HT Code-a-thon make such a huge difference. We truly believe that such programs and interventions to address skill gaps go a long way to shape the nation’s Digital India and Skill India mission and can make Atmanirbhar Bharat a reality. I wish to really thank the Hindustan Times team for this partnership and for really making an impact at a scalable level”, he said.

Ms. Deepali Naair, Chief Marketing Officer, IBM India and South Asia elaborated upon IBM’s STEM For Girls initiative. She said, “STEM For Girls is one of IBM’s largest CSR initiatives. It aims at driving young students towards technology and digital literacy. Our orpgram at IBM plans to prepare 2,00,000 girls across 12 states in India to pursue and understand their potential in “New Collar” careers. These girl students will be from 120 districts from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. I’m very happy to report that 1,80,000 girls are already a part of this program. Not just that, we even have 85,000 boys from these 12 states as part of this program. The program actually looks at holistic development of the girls’ ecosystem. It’s not just the coding that’s important and therefore we’ve also trained 8,000+ teachers.”

HT Code-a-thon 2021 provided a great learning opportunity for kids from the safety of their homes and helped them become ready for a tech-enabled future. Students of grades 4th to 9th were eligible for the program with a one-time registration fee of 499/- + GST only.

The participating students were divided into three cohorts:

  1. Students of grades 4th and 5th could enrol for App Development module
  2. Students of grades 6th and 7th could enrol for Website Development module
  3. Students of grades 8th and 9th could enrol for Game Development module

Post registration, students were provided with online learning modules that included video lectures, practice sets and quizzes. Online Qualifier and Finale were conducted in January to identify the winners who were given prizes like laptops, tablets and smartwatches.


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