The Shohag Shwapnodhara Pathshala, tucked away in a somewhat remote corner of Duwaripara slum in Mirpur, looks much like a typical school at first.
But the external appearance is where the resemblance ends. This is a school where there are no tests, students are provided with free meals and are encouraged to explore their creativity. Oh and in one classroom, the students are being equipped with tools for flourishing in this ‘digital age’ thanks to the Kids Go Coding project launched byBetterStories Limited with help from World Bank.
50 children are taught the basics of computers and programming in two batches. Classes start from 8 on the morning where the students are first taken through the basics of computing. Initial lessons include tutorials on the basic Microsoft programs- Paint, MS Office etc. Gradually, once the basics have been covered, the students are then moved onto programming languages.
Saiful Saif, a programmer and a Kids Go Coding instructor, informed that the kids are first taught Small BASIC- a programming language modeled on Microsoft Visual BASIC that has been simplified to be suitable for beginners. Once they have completed Small BASIC, the children then step on to more advanced languages.
“We have already covered the basic applications like Paint and MS Word and we can’t wait to move on to learning programming.”
In the few months since the project has started, Saif happily reported that the students have been performing very well and are very enthusiastic about using and learning about computers. The happiness of the children was plain to see, and Saima and Shilpi, seventh graders and budding coders, stated with identical ear-to-ear smiles of pride and happiness, “We have already covered the basic applications like Paint and MS Word and we can’t wait to move on to learning programming.”
Sharmin Kabir, Project Manager for Kids Go Coding, stated that Kids Go Coding currently operates in two schools- Shohag Shwapnodhara Pathshala and the school run by Jaago Foundation in Rayer Bazar. At present, there are over 100 students and the aim is to gradually expand to more schools around Dhaka and eventually the country. And if all things go well, then there are plans to try and spread the idea of underprivileged children learning coding as a tool to break out of poverty across international borders.
The main aim of Kids Go Coding is to teach coding to underprivileged kids as a way of equipping them with tools that they can use to escape the clutches of poverty. The project is being implemented by BetterStories Limited with support from Microsoft Bangladesh, Aamra Technologies, World Bank Group and Fusion. HiFi Public is the official media partner of the Kids Go Coding initiative.