Code Club in Kenya

Last year Code Club’s International Programme Manager, James Aslett, visited Kenya to attend the first-ever Scratch Africa conference in Nairobi, and had the opportunity to see a Kenyan Code Club in action. In this blog, James shares with us what he learned about Code Club in Africa.

Scratch Africa

In October 2019 I hopped on a plane to Kenya to attend the first-ever Scratch Africa conference, hosted at Brookhouse School in Nairobi.

The conference was attended by educators from across Africa and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn about the way schools and teachers are engaging young people in digital education across the continent. I also took the opportunity to visit a local Kenyan Code Club to see it in action. 

The site of the Kabuku Primary School Code Club.

Code Club in action 

Kabuku Primary School is a small government school about two hours north of Nairobi. Classrooms are crowded and the school’s Code Club is run out of a stone hut in the grounds once a week for two hours. 

I met Lena, the Code Club leader and an employee of Kids Comp Camp — our newest Growth Leader in Kenya and an organisation focussing on improving access to digital education across rural Kenya. 

Kids Comp Camp approached Kabuku Primary School about starting a Code Club when they learned that children in the region had no opportunities to learn with computers at school. The head teacher and local community were hesitant at first, and found it hard to see the links between learning computing and practical skills that would help children into employment. It took six months of community meetings and presentations for the school to allow the club to be set up and another three months to gather together the hardware needed for the club to run. Using 15 Raspberry Pi model 2 computers donated by Kids Comp Camp and connected to monitors with chicken wire, the school’s computer lab was born! 

Today, the club is thriving!

Starting with the basics 

All the children who attend the club come from low-income backgrounds and don’t have access to computers at home. Before getting started, the children needed to learn how to use a computer: typing, scrolling, clicking, downloading files, and connecting to the internet. 

Young coders hard at work.

Now that the students have mastered the basics, they are diving head first into Code Club projects. At the start of each session the children connect their Raspberry Pis to a phone internet hotspot and download the PDF of the project they will work on. Lena starts the session on why coding is important and the children list the different ways that sequences or loops are used in their everyday lives — for example in coffee machines, train stations, or in TVs. 

When I visited, the children were working in pairs to take it in turns to write code and test each other’s projects. It was amazing to see children who hadn’t ever used a computer six months ago now confidently talking me through their ideas and decisions with code. This is what Code Club is all about! 

What I learned

When I was leaving I saw a box of brand new Samsung tablets stacked in the corner of the room. Lena told me they had been there for 18 months, a leftover part of a government initiative to give every child a computer. Apparently, it’s a common sight across Kenyan schools. 

My takeaway from my trip was that hardware alone is not enough. We need passionate and knowledgeable people advocating for the relevance of computing at a local level. There is also a need for engaging resources that excite young people and help them make the most of their hardware, and flexible non-formal models of learning.

That being said, Code Clubs like that at Kabuku Primary School are a great start to introducing digital making to the next generation!

Get involved

If you’re in the UK, USA, or the Republic of Ireland, head to codeclub.org to find out how you get involved with Code Club in your community. If you’re based in the rest of the world, visit codeclubworld.org to learn more.

Bringing Code Club to rural India

Over the last few months, Pratham Education Foundation and Code Club have successfully piloted a programme across 40 villages in rural India, supporting children and young volunteers to get hands-on with coding. 

The Pratham–Code Club programme

Code Club always strives to bring learning opportunities to rural communities. The Pratham–Code Club programme was established under Pratham’s Hybrid Learning Program earlier this year, and was run in 40 rural villages in Aurangabad (Maharashtra) and Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh) in India. The aim of the programme was to start new Code Clubs and introduce children in these communities to coding and digital technology. The programme also trained young adults in the communities to become the next generation of Code Club leaders.

Four girls gathered around a monitor learning to code.
Code Club members learning to code together

Finding young Code Club leaders

Pratham works directly with rural communities. First, Pratham held a series of village meetings, where young people aged 16–25 could sign up to become Code Club volunteers. Once enrolled, the young volunteers attended a training session to build their confidence and learn how to:

  • Set up a Raspberry Pi computer
  • Use the Code Club Scratch projects 
  • Share their coding skills with young people attending their Code Clubs 

Getting Code Clubs up and running 

The Code Clubs were set up in communities with few resources, where young people often do not have access to personal computers or tablets.

To help the Code Clubs to get up and running, the Pratham Education Foundation funded and put together coding kits containing a Raspberry Pi computer, keyboard, monitor, and a mouse. The kits were distributed across 40 villages, giving 244 Code Clubs in these communities access to hardware.  

Two boys, in a community setting using a keyboard. The monitor in the background shows a Scratch project.
Code Club members using the coding kits containing a Raspberry Pi computer, keyboard, monitor, and a mouse

Impacting young people

Through this programme, many youth volunteers were introduced to computing for the first time. 

I am thankful to the Code Club Programme because I feel that I am up to date with today’s technologies. It is only because of these sessions that I was introduced to this world of computers and I know what coding means!’

The programme had an amazing impact on young people in the communities, engaging 1109 Code Club members aged 10–14, training 50 young adult volunteers, and supporting new clubs to start across India. Through the Pratham–Code Club programme, children in the communities have been able to access a world of new coding opportunities, and youth leaders have been able to further their education and employment opportunities through running a club. 

Learning to code with friends

Help more young people learn with Code Club

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is working hard to ensure that children all over the world have access to coding and digital making. To partner with the Raspberry Pi Foundation in India, write to us at india@raspberrypi.org, or to help Code Club grow in the rest of the world, contact us at hello@codeclubworld.org

Reach out to the Pratham Education Foundation at digital@pratham.org, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about their work in India.