Starting a Code Club in a rural school in Ghana

In February of 2018, a new Code Club was set up at Bosomtwe International School in Ghana. Code Club volunteer Clement Cheah tells us how he came to travel from his home in Switzerland to West Africa to help them get started.

In 2009 I learned about a school in the heart of rural Ghana. The school was set up by former professional football player and local Ibrahim Oubda, and lessons were taught outside under a tree, or in a wooden hut.

Bosomtwe International School

Bosomtwe International School in Ghana

Since then, new buildings and classrooms have been built, and the school now has a new name: Bosomtwe International School (BIS). Inspired by their progress and my own experiences, I wanted to give BIS students an opportunity to learn IT and coding skills. Supported by friends, I started a project to equip the school with hardware, including 20 Raspberry Pi computers.

During my first trip to the school, I was warmly welcomed by students and teachers. One student, Ernest, particularly stood out. Ernest was not only passionate about computers, but also about aeroplanes, and he promised that in 10 years, he would fly me somewhere.

I’d never set up a computer room in a rural school, and though I had lots of ideas, there were plenty of things I hadn’t planned for. My allocated room was in a building without electricity, but with help from an electrician and after several trips to town (about an hour away), the IT room was set up with power. Computers were new to the students, and so the ICT teacher’s first goal was to teach them how to type on a keyboard and use a mouse. I travelled back home to Switzerland, happy that we’d made a good start!

Soon after my return, I discovered Code Club at the BETT show and was impressed by both the resources and by how easy it was to start a club. I remembered Ernest, and wondered if he would enjoy coding. I shared the idea of starting a Code Club with the BIS’s ICT teacher, Bismark, and he was very supportive. Therefore, my new goal was to start a Code Club during my next visit in February 2018.

BIS_Code Club 001 (1)

Ernest, the ‘Computer Man’ at BIS

Back at BIS, I introduced Code Club and Scratch programming to Bismark and to Ernest, who by now was known as the ‘Computer Man’ at the school. Both found Scratch very user-friendly and were confident they could use it to continue the BIS Code Club. We put up Code Club posters and gave Code Club stickers to the excited students who came to try Scratch.

I am extremely happy that Ernest and his friends have this opportunity to learn coding. In the future Ernest could become a pilot, a software engineer, or even the next tech entrepreneur — who knows! I do know that BIS students (and teachers) are now learning to code thanks to the support of Code Club and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. I encourage everyone to start a Code Club in their community, or even in communities far away where the lives of children and their communities can be improved through learning a new skill: coding!

Feeling inspired?

There are Code Clubs in more than 140 countries around the world! Start one in your community now by heading to www.codeclubworld.org.

Volunteering Week: students get kids coding in Leicester

Across the UK, Code Club Regional Coordinators work closely with colleges, universities and other higher education institutions to get students started as Code Club volunteers.

Our East Midlands Regional Coordinator, Katharine Childs, tells us about working with De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester to get local Code Clubs up and running.

IMG_6803-edit (1)

I’ve been cooperating with De Montfort University since 2016 to support student volunteers and help children in local schools learn coding skills. I first came across their student volunteers at a DMU event, and was really impressed by their enthusiasm and their credo that everyone can help make a difference in the locality where they study.

#DMULocal

I joined forces with #DMULocal, a DMU initiative that promotes positive change across Leicester. Together, we created a plan to train students and sign up schools to start clubs using Code Club’s free resources and support. This year I’ve run two training sessions at the university to introduce students to the Code Club projects and Scratch, and to provide tips and ideas on how to run Code Club sessions.

lost-in-space

One of the Scratch animations that the student volunteers from De Montfort University worked on with the kids.

I also met Mason Day, a Business Management undergraduate at the university who works part-time as a Project and Outreach Assistant on the #DMULocal programme.  Mason coordinates all the coding activities and matches students to schools. I asked him why he thought it was so important for students to get involved in volunteering. He said:

Universities such as De Montfort University (DMU) have a major responsibility to contribute to society through their public engagement and to bring about positive change for the public good. #DMUlocal is enabling even more DMU students to make a real difference in their city by utilising and sharing their knowledge to meet some of the most critical challenges facing Leicester by helping to improve children’s education, supporting the wider community, and boosting the local economy.

During this academic year, 38 De Montfort University students are volunteering in 13 different schools to inspire a new generation of children to be coders, creators, and digital makers. All the students will gain valuable experience to add to their CVs, as well as strengthening their own digital skills. A huge thank you goes to Mason for all his work, and to the students for being amazing role models for children in Leicester.

Get involved

If you work for a local college or university and would like to talk to us about how your students can volunteer for Code Club, get in touch with us at hello@codeclub.org.uk.

If you are a student who would like to volunteer at a local club, getting started is really simple. No coding experience is required — just click here to register, and you can start looking for clubs in your area straight away.

When the BBC visited Code Club

At the end of February, the Code Club at Abbey Community Primary in Leicester had some visitors: a camera crew from the BBC that filmed them as part of a piece for BBC East Midlands.

Here, Steve Gale, the volunteer at the club and one of our Code Club Champions, talks about the experience.

DSC_0046

Director of Code Club Maria Quevedo and Code Club Champion Steve Gale pose with the Abbey Community Primary School Code Club.

So there I was, taking a two-week break from Code Club on a cruise around the South China Sea. I had paid for an hour of WiFi onboard the ship and was catching up with my emails when I spotted one with the unusual subject heading “Urgent – Media Request” from the Code Club East Midlands Coordinator, Katharine Childs.

I read the email thread between Katharine and Emran, the Abbey Community Primary teacher who I run the club with, and it turned out that not only had we been asked whether East Midlands Today could come and film, but Emran had already accepted! I have got to admit, I had a couple of sleepless nights worrying about it.

“I loved to be filmed because I thought I was famous, and I would love to be filmed again.” – Rajeshwari, Abbey Community Primary student, proving Steve had no reason to worry

Emran and I decided to run an extra club session on the day before the film crew was scheduled to visit. We made sure all the computers worked, and we talked to our club members about what was going to happen during the filming. Our only piece of advice to them was to enjoy themselves.

“I felt nervous and excited, but it was worth it. Code Club is a great place, and I will always love it.” – Abdirahman, Abbey Community Primary student

On the big day, we all were ready. The cameraman Ian, the reporter Emily, and Code Club Director Maria all arrived at the same time. Emily explained that she needed to record three things: a segment of herself, an interview with Maria, and then some background shots of the club members coding away!

DSC_0041

Ian did a great job putting the club members at ease: he told them not to look directly at the camera while he was filming and to instead just ignore him…and definitely no trying to sneak a nosy look at the camera, because he would notice!

“I really enjoyed the experience, as we got to play on computers and see ourselves on TV.” – Mustafi Barhani, Abbey Community Primary student

Once the filming started and we were coding, we almost forgot the camera was there. Some of the children were working on a Scratch project, and the others were using micro:bits.

DSC_0039.JPG

Everyone enjoyed the experience, and we were all surprised by how quickly the hour was over. I was particularly interested to see how an hour of filming was going to be cut down to 2 minutes, especially as the crew told us they were going to another school to film some more material.

“It was very exciting to visit the Code Club at Abbey Primary Community School with the BBC East Midlands team. I was very impressed by the projects the club members were making, and by how professional they were in front of the camera.” – Maria Quevedo, Code Club Director

The piece went out on East Midlands Today on 27 February as part of the 6.30pm news program. Several of the club members were interviewed on camera, and I was really pleased with their responses. It showed how much they are getting out of Code Club, which is what makes running the club worthwhile.

Now I wonder if Central TV want to do any filming…..

Your turn in the spotlight

If, as Steve does, you could use your digital skills to inspire the next generation by running a Code Club, find out how to get involved at codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club.