Fuelled by its vision of encouraging and supporting technology education in the country, the Capacity Forum of the Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM) partnered with Dialog to initiate TechKids as an accelerator to educate and engage kids between the ages of 6- 16 years on technology and coding.
Carried out by SLASSCOM’s Capacity Forum, TechKids is operationalised via coding clubs , embracing over 1,400 young techies from around 50 schools across the country, including Kandy, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Kilinochchi, Negombo and Kurunegala.
TechKids currently has over 74 volunteer trainers from the industry to assist the children. These volunteers are provided with constant training opportunities to keep them upgraded with knowledge as well as skills in working with young kids.
Aligned with the government’s vision of establishing a digitally inclusive Sri Lanka, and focused on increasing the IT literacy of the future workforce, TechKids benefits not only the IT/BPM industry but the country as a whole since it empowers children with skills to pursue any future career choice be it IT or non-IT
“Ours is an engaging platform which facilitates institutions to run their own code clubs,” says Nishan Mendis Executive Director, Technology Consulting Leader and CIO at PwC, who is a SLASSCOM Board Director and Head of its Capacity Forum.
Architected by Hasith Yaggahavita , CTO of 99X Technology and General Council member of SLASSCOM, the platform encourages team work among students when pursuing coding projects thus enabling them to collaborate for communal learning.
Nishan explains: “Once a code club is established, students are registered on the TechKids platform and SLASSCOM conducts a session to onboard the children. The platform has 50 curated projects for the kids to take on, either on their own or with the help of a code club volunteer or owner. We aim to give students real-world exposure and this is something that has been prioritised at all code club sessions conducted at tech companies. During the pandemic, we converted these sessions, comprising all aspects as was done physically, to a virtual environment, which stirred up a lot of enthusiasm from students and parents alike.”
The programme has partnered with several reputed international bodies including the Royal Norwegian Embassy which having recognised the importance of the programme has collaborated with SLASSCOM to play a pivotal role in TechKids.
The recently concluded online coding session for the children of Dialog Club Vision loyalty customers was attended by over fifty 6-9 graders and was conducted over Zoom by Chamil Jeewantha,Software Architect from Zone 24×7 and SLASSCOM General Council Member , who is a passionate educator and advocate for teaching coding to the younger generation.
“It’s inspiring to see the enthusiasm and curiosity of young kids towards coding and the session gave many children their first taste of coding – the start of a journey of discovery in IT,” says Group Chief Customer Officer of Dialog Axiata PLC Sandra De Zoysa, adding that Dialog’s partnership with SLASSCOM has seen the successful accomplishment of multiple coding sessions in Jaffna, Badulla, Anuradhapura, Galle and many other regions in recent times.
With Techkids being aimed at increasing the focus on IT and in providing children with a holistic approach to the topic, SLASSCOM is looking to align IT education with school curriculums, targeting 5-10 grade students across the country and also plans to provide training to IT teachers to use the TechKids platform as a teaching tool to complement theoretical learning. The association is also looking at aggressively expanding the number of code clubs at school level, by collaborating with schools around the island.
Going forward,SLASSCOM is organizing three TechKids awareness sessions targeting parents and teachers , which will be conducted in all three languages, to highlight the importance of encouraging children to explore tech.
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