Twenty #Children aged 12 to 15 from across high schools in Kigali city were over the weekend (28 and 29th) hosted by Kigali city based open technology hub. The first ever children`s boot camp in ICT was launched in a bid to introduce basic programming skills to children and influence them to start coding at a young age. The two day camp was organized to meet the need expressed by parents for their children to join the hub during holidays. The hub also wanted to equip children with tools they might need at some point in life.
kLab general manager, Ms. Claudette Irere, said that the hub normally hosts university #Students and fresh graduates who have ideas they want to turn into business ventures. The boot camp is therefore a new initiative to respond to parent's request. "We want to teach children basic programming skills in the hope that we will be able to influence their educational choice. We have specifically targeted high school students in ordinary level who haven't yet decided what they will pursue in advanced level", said Ms. Irere.
She added that the ICT camp will be an eye opener for children who might consider a career in programming when they grow up. Children were taught Alice and web maker respectively Oracle and Mozilla platforms. They had each a computer to use and were given hands on skills by mentors and facilitators.
"It is a good initiative on behalf of kLab to start hosting an annual ICT boot camp for children because of their fresh minds to adopt technology", argued mentor Fileille Naberwe. She affirmed that it is imperative because children will be providing solutions for the future and should be exposed at a young age. As a way to practice how mobile applications solve real problems in society, children were given an opportunity to order their own lunch via 'Hello Food', an online food ordering site that connect people with over 60 of Kigali`s best restaurants.
Alodie Iradukunda asserted that the camp was basically a step forward to inspire children into finding passion in computer #Science and encourage them to have an entrepreneurial mindset. The computer science student at Trinity college in the United States, who is currently in holiday, added that it was vital for her to share leadership and technology skills she has acquired with future innovators.
kLab plans to be bringing back participants who will still be interested and trains them to a more advanced level. At the end of the camp, children were given an opportunity to present projects they developed using tools learned. Uwase Divine and her friends got the first award with their mobile application project aimed at guiding people visiting Rwanda. "I made new friends, acquired technology and entrepreneurial skills and look forward to be a programmer", said the 13 year-old high school student.
kLab will from now on be taking new cohorts each year. "As children grow up, we also want to be with them along the way equipping them to become future developers", said the open technology hub general manager. Jean Niyotwagira claimed that it was paramount for his company to sponsor this new initiative.
"I believe that we can't keep doing software development if we are not able to support the next generation of programmers", said Torque CEO who also graduated from kLAB. The first children's boot camp in ICT was sponsored by UNICEF Rwanda, Oracle, Mozilla, Dot Rwanda, Gira ICT, Torque Ltd and Hello Food. The second edition will take place next year during October-December holidays.