Finalist category: BT Young Pioneer Award
BT Young Pioneer Award, Finalist, 2018
Teaching computer programming skills to children in developing countries.
Code Camp was set up by 16 year old Mahek Vara to teach computer programming skills to children in developing countries – so far it has reached over 70,00 students in India alone, equipping them with invaluable technological skills and knowledge..
After learning to code during her A-Levels, Mahek set up the camps in Gujarat, India, to share her experience and encourage an interest in science and technology for girls especially. Code Camp is now a registered charity and has reached over 70,000 students in India.
“As the schemes of work are so clearly written, little specialist knowledge is needed to deliver the programme, simply the package, working equipment and the will to make it happen.
I found that, although initially the programme is facilitated by teachers, the will came primarily from the children who demonstrated a remarkable hunger for gaining technological skills and knowledge, such that, soon, those who had mastered the first stages of the programme were teaching other students.
This way, in spite of limited computers in schools, children were able to maximise their resources by teaching each other in small groups, both in formal classes and informally throughout the school day.”
It’s about new learning methods – not just coding…
Mahek believes that Code Camp encourages innovation and initiative amoung young people, exposing them to new learning methods that are essential for our changing world. She also hopes to have inspired school teachers to revitalise their unused equipment by sharing knowledge and expertise as they develop it among themselves.
The charity wants to expand further to help benefit many other children across the globe, and the camps are being extended to an all-girls school in Saudi Arabia, and another location in Sri Lanka. Mahek is also developing a gap year programme which will enable English Language students from the UK to volunteer to teach English classes to students alongside the coding lessons.
Mahek believes passionately that education should prepare young people to participate in the 21st Century world and that these programming skills will be vital in allowing them to do so.