This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shivani Tanwar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Ed-Tech Startups Are Teaching Coding To Six-Year-Olds

 “We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget he is someone today.” —  Stacia Tauscher

This quote fits perfectly on today’s pushy parents. The ones who’re anxious about their children’s future and continuously overburden their child’s fragile shoulders. Our TV screens nowadays flash an advertisement in which a group of people dressed in suits rush towards a house, and punch and push each other in a race to get there. A mother and father are sitting on the porch, sipping their morning tea and watching all this action with a smile. When a neighbour comes to investigate, the mother tells him that these are investors rushing to fund Chintu, their elementary school son who has built an app by learning coding from WhiteHat Jr (WHJ).

WhiteHat Jr (WHJ) is an ed-tech startup that teaches coding courses to children as young as six years. This is reminiscent of the IIT-JEE coaching market, which has now started targeting children from Class 8 and 9 standard. Within 18 months’ operation, WHJ was acquired by ed-tech giant BYJU’S for $300 million.

Neha Jain, founder and CEO at Inchakra, has spoken against WHJ’s coding classes. She states that her nine-year-old kid was a student of WHJ for five months. Teachers at WHJ were rude and manipulative with her child. Neha states that she repeatedly complained to the ‘relationship manager’ assigned to her by WHJ, but this person was no help.

She also wrote a letter of complaint to the founder of WHJ, Karan Bajaj, who offered no apology or recompense, apart from four free classes from WHJ. The irony in WHJ’s remedy to the institutional mental trauma inflicted on a child (to offer more of the same to him) is difficult to ignore.

Image credit: Getty Images

To expose the malpractices and fraud committed by these companies, activist Pradeep Poonia, who is also a software engineer, has continuously raised his voice against such ed-tech companies. In his recent video, YouTuber Dhruv Rathee interviewed Poonia regarding the same.

Poonia previously worked in an ed-tech and found himself disillusioned with startups that chase money and numbers over education quality. Recently, he raised an online cry against WHJ. Six videos have been removed from his first YouTube channel, and another eight from his second channel called ‘SafedTopi Sr2’. His third channel has two videos erased so far.

The first video uploaded by Poonia was titled ‘Who is Wolf Gupta?’. In the video, he claimed to expose how Wolf Gupta, a fictional character, who has been used as a tool by the WHJ to sell its products. These companies have aggressive marketing strategies, including pitching to parents that their children can be the next Sunder Pichai, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Wolf Gupta was featured in ads by these companies, with kids aged 9, 12 or 13 claiming to have bagged a package between Rs 1.2 crore to Rs 150 crores from Google. All this, because Wolf Gupta learned coding at an early age from these ed-tech companies.

WHJ founder Karan Bajaj has filed a case in the Delhi High Court against Poonia for defamation, infringement of copyrights, invasion of privacy and damages. In an interview, Poonia said that these companies are influencing kids to run after money. They show misleading ads that get stuck in the minds of Indian parents, who then pressurise their children to learn and act beyond their age. The solution to these problems, according to Poonia, is instead of focusing on coding, children should learn how to do a Google search.

These ed-tech companies don’t want students to know the power of internet. They want to keep children under their self-created bubble by providing them with tablets fit to their own environments. Poonia further argues that these companies have sales and marketing as their top priority, the technical staff and teachers are at the bottom of their hierarchy.

Poonia believes that these companies are putting parents into an EMI trap. Poonia has been censored many times and banned from YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn and Quora. Mainstream media, who can spend hours and hours on debating on issues such as ‘love jihad’ or Sushant Singh Rajput, has refused to cover this issue.

Why coding at this tender age? Why not any other subject? These companies are making money by hallowing rich technocracy. Instead of learning coding at an early age, children should be taught basic human values that will help them to become better human beings in future. A dialogue from the movie 3 idiots says, “Life is a race, if you won’t run fast then anyone can crumble you.”

Parents nowadays put unnecessary pressure on their children so that they are not left behind, but these parents forget that they are making their kids mentally weak. Parents should encourage critical thinking instead. They should let the kids learn things on their own, let them learn what they want to learn and not direct them all the time on what to do and what not to.

Another memorable dialogue from the same movie says, “Don’t run after success, rather build excellence, if you grab excellence than success will chase you automatically.” It’s time we (parents in particular) start taking children’s mental and wholesome well-being into account.

You must be to comment.

More from Shivani Tanwar

Similar Posts

By Aditya Jaiswal

By Kunal Jha

By Ankita Marwaha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below