CodeImpact, Fundi Bots Crossroads animation inspire youth during fun filled science tech expo

During the term for continuous learning, weekend programs are available where not only kids from 6 years onwards can learn, even those who are working and would like to switch careers, there are programs for them. CODEIMPACT’s focus is on software engineering.

Jan 12, 2023 - 10:40
CodeImpact, Fundi Bots Crossroads animation inspire youth during fun filled science tech expo
CodeImpact, Fundi Bots Crossroads animation inspire youth during fun filled science tech expo

KAMPALA - The National ICT Innovation Hub has organized a two days fun filled science tech expo with exhibitions, coding, gaming, animation, robotics, and Virtual Reality. Participants will acquire a lot of knowledge and will get to be part of the fight for digital literacy in Africa. It started on the 11th January and will end on the 12th January 2023. Some of the products being showcased include; the Artec Robo Simulator, the Tech Rise Africa kit for teaching STEM in African school settings and so much more.

The key objectives for this expo are; Immersion of Robotics in learning, Virtual Reality learning spaces, Immersion of Edu-Tech, Advanced Computer- Aided Design for products and product stimulation.

Through the work done as teachers, developers, and artists, they are aiming to create interactive and intuitive educational experiences that put the learner experiences first.

According to Alex Shyaka Nkusi, Founder/CEO CODEIMPACT and one of the facilitators during the expo, his organization focuses on coding and robotics. He revealed that robotic clubs are in 12 schools in Kampala and students pay every term. They also run holiday programs online and it has been ongoing for the past four years. Focus is on coding especially programming (language of the web), HTML, CSS JavaScript. Everything that is done is project based.

Shyaka says that right from the beginning, the learners are examined for 8 weeks (2 days a week) of study. On the third day of the week which is a Friday, they meet at Uganda Institute of Communications Technology at the National Innovation Hub, Nakawa to talk about other aspects of life in order to build a wholesome person not only focusing on the technical aspect because many do not know how to find a job though they have the skills. These include; mentors invited to talk to them about career guidance, communication in the work place.

“These are important skills because a lot of work is done online and remotely even for developers. You have to know how to work online and how to communicate well,” Nkusi added.

During the term for continuous learning, weekend programs are available where not only kids from 6 years onwards can learn, even those who are working and would like to switch careers, there are programs for them. CODEIMPACT’s focus is on software engineering.

After finishing the programs, those that have gone through the programs become part of an online community and continue to learn through a huge network of mentors. CODEIMPACT taps into the mentor’s expertise to make sure that people continue to learn, work on open source projects and many other projects because as a developer what really sells you is the things you have done not the things that you have studied because anyone can study anything. People want proof. You should be able to show what you have done.

Shyaka Nkusi added that mentors come from the work place with skills in software engineering and tell exactly what employers are looking for. Through such training, you are able to get a person who is ready to work. Usually when they finish school even some of the programs for university students who have finished school but they do not have skills for the work place. That is why programs emphasize on job skills.

CODEIMPACT’s startup is housed at the National ICT Hub, with an amazing physical space, where all sessions are done. CODEIMPACT is exhibiting the programs that they run. Some participants are using simulators. In the clubs where robotics is done, they are constrained by tools because robots are expensive. That is why simulators are used to teach so that by the time they access the real actual robot, they already have experience working with the simulators. It helps with the cost.

Alex Shyaka Nkusi says that some of the challenges faced include lack of adequate tools and Infrastructure. Access to adequate tools because they are expensive that is why they have put in place a Tech Rise Africa kit. It consists of a micro byte( a computer itself but cheap and goes for about 20 USD).

“We are able to move with that to schools. The microbyte can be connected to a USB enabled screen and it can become a computer, even smart TV at home can be a computer. Fix it in, get a mouse and key board and someone can learn. It will help lower the barrier of entry,” Nkusi highlighted. Shyka says he founded CODEIMPACT not only to cater for the rich kids who can afford but his passion is to democratize it for everyone in government and private run schools.

On infrastructure, Nkusi says the internet is still very expensive. He adds that if schools are connected to the internet and support is rendered through grants to have enough affordable ICT tools, they can easily cover almost everywhere in Uganda.

He added that the tax structure in Uganda is a big challenge, because they tax too much on small businesses and wonders when they will we ever grow! Nkusi says that another challenge is human resource. Even if he goes to university and looks for computer science students to hire with 1st class degrees to join to be tutors to help mentor others, he struggles to teach them because what they have learned in school does not apply and need to be retrained again in order to fit into the system.

Tech rise kit will help underserved communities, inner city communities, slums but Nkusi cannot do this alone. He calls on partners like MTN Foundation, Ministry of Education and Sports, network of schools, to be able to get there. Shyka says that they need grants.

Also, incubation programs should include people who have dropped out of school to start small businesses. How can they be helped to use the internet to be able to reach more people?

“They drop out of school then set up something for themselves, how can they leverage the internet, the power of technology, social media, digital marketing to get their products to a wider audience? We are looking for grants to run those programs not just for the kids but also for young people who are unemployed or have businesses but do not know how to apply technology,” Shyaka Nkusi concluded.

Meanwhile, Rosebella Nsita Fundi Bots Regional Manager Kampala revealed that the mission is to accelerate science learning in Africa and the vision is to see Africa transformed through science.

Fundi Bots are working to improve science learning and provide skills training for one million African children and youth by 2030 and also accelerate STEM(science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning in Africa especially in schools.

Fundi Bots accelerates and transforms learning through the following:

The Fundi Bots STEM/Robotics training provides extra-curricular learning experiences that augment classroom lessons and provide skills-based learning outcomes beyond academic performance to prepare students for life beyond school.

The Fundi Bots Enhanced Science curriculum is embedded directly into the national curriculum, supporting learning implementation and outcomes from an academic perspective. It also provides pedagogy and skills training for teachers of science.

According to Nkusi, Fundi Bots works through three main pillars that reflect how, where and when they carry out our interventions. In addition, the Fundi Girls program runs as a stand-alone model that also weaves through all the work that we do at Fundi Bots.

During the expo, Fundi Bots is taking participants through Tech/innovation, a curriculum for robotics for 6-25 years. They will offer robotics hands-on training, prototypes being showcased, and science tools for P.4, P.5, S.1 and S.2. Also, machine learning especially the 3D printer is being taught. However, Nkusi says they face challenges with bureaucracy though not in all offices.

There is also a major problem with the attitude of some individuals. Many people do not understand the essence of innovation/technology. Some feel it is not part of our culture but a western thing. Why should a child do animation?

Also, the attitude on stereotyping. Some say it is a thing for boys though Fundi Bots want many girls to be involved (fundi girls).

Rosella Nsita recommends that government should increase the level of sensitization especially to the remote user. The attitude upcountry is that they think AI is only for those in the urban centers and are not interested in acquiring the latest phone gadgets because they do not know how to use them. She calls upon those with digital skills to teach those that do not know how to use them.

She praised government for availing facilities which are there because it has put a lot of effort in developing and promoting Artificial Intelligence. Fundi Bots has offices in Kampala, Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale to mention but a few. They have so far trained 1500 learners.

John Kusolo John Kusolo, a Ugandan Journalist, Sport fanatic, Tourist, Pastor, and Motivational Speaker. I am passionate about my work with a steady source of motivation that drives me to do my best. I am ambitious and driven. I thrive on challenge and constantly set goals for myself, so I have something to strive toward. Socials: John Kusolo on facebook and Twitter.