In a country where millions of citizens have access to smartphones of different grades, but few have real ICT skills, an organization has come up with a plan to change the status quo, and inspire the next generation to develop ICT skills. That organization is ACI, with its Project 10,000 Kids.
What’s this about?
ACI has a better explanatory article that explains the proposed project. As the name implies, the project plans to train 10,000 kids drawn from different secondary schools in the South Western region of Nigeria. These 10-14 year old kids would be taught how to build robots using LEGO kits (cool right?) The 10,000 kids would pay nothing; the only requirement is their zeal to learn.
The plan covers the period from September 2015 to April 2016. At scheduled dates, ACI instructors would visit respective schools to give the kids a chance to gain a skill that they would otherwise have no opportunity to learn. After training, ACI plans to organize competitions to provide stimuli for further development.
ACI’s goal is to use robotics to spur the kids’ interest in the world of computing. The ultimate goal is not to build an army of robot creators. Rather, ACI aims to inspire the next generation of programmers, software developers, computer scientists, engineers, to raise kids who would be interested in being Nigeria’s Bill Gates or Larry Page. The UK’s Raspberry Pi project is geared towards a similar goal.
The organisation believes that through robotics, these kids would learn vital problem solving skills with increased creativity that can be transferred to any challenge they face, making them reliable problem solvers and innovators. Robotics is an area that scarcely features in Nigeria’s education system. ACI seeks to change that.
ACI? Do they have the credibility to run this project?
ACI Tech Education has been involved in training undergraduates in some of Nigeria’s elite universities. Their training programmes span a number of software applications and programming languages that are essential in today’s world. In 2014, I had the opportunity to work as an ACI Instructor, and I was impressed with the team’s vision and organisational style. Hence, I believe in ACI’s capacity to carry out the Project 10,000 Kids. ACI has also executed a pilot programme where kids were taught how to build robots. The Project 10,000 Kids is a scaled-up version of that project. ACI is collaborating with National Instruments, iLab, Obafemi Awolowo University’s Electrical and Electronics Department, and Enactus International.
Okay. Fine. What do they need?
To cover kits and other logistics, ACI has proposed a $150,000 budget (about ₦30 million). The instructors are undergraduate volunteers who are doing this as a service for Nigeria’s future. ACI has an ongoing fund raising campaign on the online crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo.com. Please hop to that site and make a donation.
What! $150,000 for robotics?
Yeah. That’s the modest sum that ACI is requesting to train 10,000 kids. The fund raising site contains an explanation of the budget. Some persons would argue that Nigeria has lots of problems. Why waste money to teach a bunch of kids about robotics? It’s true that this country has lots of problems. One of such problems is a lack of skilled manpower strengthened by weak interest in technology. ACI wants to play a part in fixing this. While the government improves social infrastructures, and different NGOs improve awareness about malaria and STDs, ACI aims to improve interest in ICT. A Nigerian version of Silicon Valley would not be a bad idea.
The Project Needs You
Please make a donation on Indiegogo. The “widow’s mite” is $15 (about ₦3,000). The money for your next movie ticket or large pizza could help teach a kid how to build a robot. When the kids excitedly show off their newly built robots, you’ll be glad you helped put the smile on their faces.
Help to spread the word. Use #Project10000kids to publicize this campaign. If you have any questions, the ACI team is available to provide any clarification. The team can be contacted via Indiegogo, or you can send a mail to the team’s leader, Olaoluwa Balogun via firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348037141630. Let’s give these kids something good to dream about.
Disclaimer: I’m not part of the organisers. I don’t currently work for ACI. I believe in their vision. That’s why I’m endorsing this project.