Hyderabad: How often do bright students from low-income backgrounds miss out on opportunities? This is the exact question that led city-based serial entrepreneur Meraj Faheem, to come up with Code for India, a foundation emphasising providing an equal opportunity to deserving students.
The foundation came into existence in December 2019 after Meraj merged the parent company “The Hacking School ” with Australia-based startup incubation I-College. Founded in 2013, The Hacking School aimed at providing a platform for students to learn and enhance their coding skills.
Speaking to Siasat.com Meraj said, “I believe in the power of coding, and was keen on setting up the program to promote coding in India.”
Shedding light on the inception of the school, the entrepreneur said, “The idea to initiate the program struck me in 2011-12 when I was working on two of my other start-ups.”
In order to set up the initiative here, Meraj conducted an intensive study of the methods adopted by silicon valley to promote coding. Based on his research, the entrepreneur conducted coding boot camps In Hyderabad. “Initially I was managing the whole company by myself. Gradually I got in touch with people who were willing to join the company and channelise their knowledge for the greater good,” he explained.
He further said that the teaching method at schools was muddled and not in accordance with the requirements of Silicon Valley.
The Hacking school is providing three different courses including Full Stack web development, Full stack web 3 development with an emphasis on Block Chai Development, and Data Analytics with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIML)
The duration of the courses is three months and has attracted a large number of applicants from across the world. “While reviewing the applications, we found out that many deserving students missed out on the program due to financial issues,” Meraj said, as the motive behind the Code for India.
The birth of Code for India
Shedding light on the inception of Code for India, Meraj said, “We wanted to provide an opportunity to students who were forced to discontinue education due to financial issues but are willing to learn.” The entrepreneur said that he struck a deal with I-college and merged The Hacking School with the incubation centre.
The merger of the parent company relieved the entrepreneur and he could concentrate on creating awareness among students in various colleges, with a focus on those from low-income backgrounds. “To make it affordable for such students, we initiated the Code For India Fellowship which allows students to access the same courses free of cost.”
Explaining the composition of the classes, program manager Ilyas Shah Khan said, “We currently have 23 students in our first batch and all of them have been provided with study material and laptops,” adding that there is a one-course instructor and three assistant teachers to guide the students.
Addressing a query on the funding of the program, Ilyas said that the initiative is supported by the State Institute of Vocational Education.
At the moment the organisation is allowed to induct a total of 40 students in each of the three courses.
Speaking of the application process the program manager said, “Aspirants can apply for the program through Code for India website and after that, are supposed to go through the program fitness call, followed by the Computer Science Assessment Test (CSAT) and draft a Statement of Purpose (SoP).”
Based on their assessment of the SoPs, the program managers admit candidates into the aforementioned courses.
Sharing his experience of the program, one of the students, Abdullah said,” I had met Meraj sir, who briefed me about the program. This was the opportunity I was looking for and joined the course instantly.”
“It has benefited me since I can spend time learning to code and approach the instructors in case I have doubts” he added.