In photos: KP's young IT specialists build key critical-thinking skills

By Danish Yousafzai

Asad Khan and Wajid Ali, both eighth-grade students at Government Shaheed Shahzad Ijaz High School Peshawar pictured here on November 13, developed a football game as part of the EAP. [Danish Yousafzai]

Seventh-grade students at Government Higher Secondary School Nodia Payan, Peshawar, attend a computer-basics class on November 14. [Danish Yousafzai]

Schoolgirls November 13 develop computer programmes at Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Wazir Bagh Peshawar. [Danish Yousafzai]

Haseeb Khan (right), an eighth-grade student at Government Shaheed Shahzad Ijaz High School Peshawar, works on a computer on November 14. Although he never touched a computer before starting the EAP, "now I can develop websites and computer games," he said. [Danish Yousafzai]

A student presents his project, a game titled "Cat Run", to his class on November 13 at Government Shaheed Shahzad Ijaz High School Peshawar. [Danish Yousafzai]

Schoolgirls work on an app on November 14 at Government Shaheed Shahzad Ijaz High School Peshawar. [Danish Yousafzai]

Wajeeha Khan, a seventh-grade student, explains the coding of her computer game on November 14 at Government Shaheed Shahzad Ijaz High School Peshawar. She developed a maze game in two months.[Danish Yousafzai]

Sixth-grade students at Government High School Sufaid Dheri work on a game on November 14. [Danish Yousafzai]

PESHAWAR -- Children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are learning key critical-thinking skills via an information technology (IT) curriculum that could help them avoid extremism and violent activities.

The primary education system in Pakistan often ignores key factors for innovation, including basic information and communication technology (ICT) and other areas that help develop critical thinking and creativity, officials say.

The KP government in 2017 launched the "Early Age Programming (EAP) and IT Essentials for the Children of Government Schools" to foster peace through creative thinking and innovation for students in grades 6-8.

"In the first phase of EAP from January 2017 to December 2017, 3,000 students and concerned IT teachers of 57 government schools in 13 districts were trained on the EAP curriculum," said EAP project manager Zeeshan Mazhar.


Muhammad Qadir, an IT teacher at Government Shaheed Shahzad Ijaz High School Peshawar, delivers a lecture on problem solving to EAP students on November 13. [Danish Yousafzai]

In the second phase of the project, 2018-2019, the initiative was extended to 300 government schools of 14 districts, wherein 17,000 students and IT teachers of the respective schools received training on the EAP curriculum, he said.

Advanced skills for youth

"In order to resolve the widespread extremism and maintain peace in a developing country like Pakistan, the younger generation needs to be trained on key advanced and highly demanded skills of the market such as computer programming," said Mazhar.

The curriculum for EAP was developed with the consultation of IT specialists and academia, said EAP project co-ordinator Muhammad Yousaf.

The advanced curriculum has enabled students to develop mobile-phone applications, animation and games.

"Students of EAP made history by grabbing the top three positions in early age programming category all over Pakistan in the Computer Project Exhibition and Competition (COMPPEC) 2019, an annual event hosted by the Department of Computer Engineering NUST [National University of Sciences of Technology], Islamabad," Yousaf said.

EAP students also won first and second places in the junior student category at the [email protected] [Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES] ICT Awards 2019, which recognises top ICT performers, he noted.

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Really amazing initiative of KP Govt...Kindly raise this issue to Education Ministers to extend this project to merged districts