Last week Microsoft East Africa partnered with Code.org to teach young people an hour of code all over the world. It was computer science week and young people over the world got to have fun with computers learning to code a game called Minecraft. At the camps held last week in Nairobi I met some young guys volunteering their time to teach kids how to code. The volunteers were from Kids Comp Camp. I caught up with Kevin from Kids Comp Camp to find out more about them.
What does your organization do?
Kids Comp Camp #KompyutaMashinani is an initiative to help young learners in marginalized communities gain a competitive edge in today’s digital driven society. The initiative is organized by The African Centurion Trust. In 2015 they carried out a baseline survey of 6 schools in Tana River County to find out how many kids have been exposed to computers. They found out that out of 30 kids interviewed only 3 had seen a computer before. This showed the urgency of teaching kids computer skills.
During the holidays and sometimes weekends Kids Comp Camps run computer camps targeting under privileged communities. The kids go through a digital literacy curriculum designed for students with no prior experience. For every camp we also want to establish a well equipped and easily accessible kids comp lab and also train somebody to be in charge of the facility.
How did Kids Comp Camp start?
Kids Comp Camp was started in 2014, as a ‘plot’ for guys from JKUAT. The students would go to a remote location and teach computer basics. 3 years down the line, 5000+ kids, and over 10 counties we are still going.
How do you get volunteers?
Kids comp camp sends out Google forms to source for volunteers. We use word of mouth, blogs and social media as well. We are on facebook Kids Comp Camp, Twitter @kidscompcamp and we also use the hashtag #kompyutamashinani. We also have a website kidscompcamp.com.
We currently have about 250 volunteers who work with the kids and behind the scenes to make everything we do possible.
Why is it important for young kids to learn computers?
Kids need to be enlightened on computers because it’s the new frontier or rather there are more opportunities in tech coming up and not enough man power to utilize it fully. We are just giving the Kenyan young ones a chance to reach for that milestone.
What are the highs you have experienced so far?
Every time we go to a camp, teach a child, and we leave them excited and smiling is a big deal. To see them absorbing all that information and using it is a reward no money can buy.
What are the challenges?
Funding is the major issue; we try and source for sponsors to help us finance the camps. A single camp requires we cater for the kids food, volunteers food, accommodation and other minor things. A normal camp circuit would cost no less than Ksh. 100,000. So we really need sponsorship for growth.
Guys at @kidscompcamp are looking 2 set up @ least 1 comp per school & teach one person in comm. to handle project #HourofCode @Microsoftea pic.twitter.com/T5TsTBMRJ0
— Rayhab Gachango (@potentash) December 5, 2016
Tell us about Hour of Code and what you are doing?
Hour of code is an initiative by code.org, started to reach out and encourage everyone to code. It’s a known fact that code is everywhere, so just like Obama said “don’t just play the game code it.” Kids Comp Camp in light of the world Computer Science Week is trying to do the same – 6 days, 6 schools, 6 locations
How did you end up partnering with Microsoft?
Microsoft came into the picture last year when Kids Comp Camp won a competition on technology innovations. We got a grant for Ksh. 5 million as well as a chance to run a program called “we speak code” where Kids Comp Camp run camps to reach out to 2000+ kids in 2 months and in over 5 counties.
What are you looking forward to doing in the next one year?
Our overall mission is to reach over 20000 kids by 2020, as well as have Kids Comp Camp become self sustaining. So anyone who shares a passion to make a difference and impact lives can join us. Soon it will be “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” – We came, We saw and We taught.
How can people join Kids Comp Camp?
People can join Kompyuta mashinani via an application on our website. You can sign up for a single session or the whole camp if you are available.
How can people support Kids Comp Camp?
People can support us by joining our team as volunteers or buying lunch boxes for the kids who attend via our #DonateLunchbox. A lunchbox is food for 1 child for 1 camp at only Kshs. 200.You can choose to donate your lunchbox in the following ways
1) Monthly basis at only Ksh. 200
2) Quarterly at only Ksh. 600
3) Half yearly at only KSh. 1200
4) Yearly at Ksh. only 2400
We target to raise Ksh. 2,400,000 to feed 10,000 Kids in 2016/17. You can donate your lunchbox(es) via TILL NUMBER : 308199. The confirmation message will be from “Africa Centurion”.