Empowering coders with CoderDojo Sri Lanka

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With code, you can write your story with technology. If you can code, you can communicate your ideas via a computer program bringing it to life. With an already prevalent shortage of good developers and programmers, CoderDojo has taken it upon themselves to prepare and arm the next generation of programmers.

What is CoderDojo?

CoderDojo is a global movement of free, open coding clubs called Dojos. These Dojos are open for anyone aged 7 to 17. Their mission is to give young people around the world the opportunity to learn to code in a social and safe environment.

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A CoderDojo session in progress (Image Credits: CoderDojo)

In keeping with the theme, those who take part in CoderDojo are called Ninjas.  Ninjas learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, and games, and explore technology in a fun and creative way. In addition, Ninjas also get the opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded peers and work on exciting projects. At the end of the day, Ninjas walk away with valuable social and transferable skills for the future.

A typical day at a CoderDojo Dojo

Dojos are typically set up by one lead volunteer, known as the champion. Think of the Dojo champion as a project manager of the club. The champion also has a team of volunteers who help them run their club.

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A CoderDojo champion has a team of volunteers who help them with running the Dojo (Image Credits: STEMUp Educational Foundation)

Because CoderDojo is an open-source movement, anyone anywhere can volunteer to set up a club. Each Dojo is unique and operates autonomously. This means every club will differ slightly. However, all verified Dojos are committed to live by the CoderDojo Charter and ethos. This is to be inclusive, free, open, and collaborative.

CoderDojo’s open-source model has helped the movement spread around the world: there are almost 2000 Dojos spread across 80 countries, and people start new Dojos every day.

Sri Lanka too has a CoderDojo now

CoderDojo Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan network of this programme. An initiative of STEMUp Educational Foundation, CoderDojo Sri Lanka currently has over 20 locations in operation around the country.

CoderDojo Sri Lanka kicked off by on-boarding existing rural IT centers in the country. The team at STEMUp Educational Foundation visited their centers and carried out training on their trainers. This was specially directed to physical computing (Microbit, Arduino etc.) and coding. Now they are running CoderDojo sessions in their centers parallelly to their on-going programs.

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Sri Lanka too has it’s own CoderDojo in place. (Image Credits: STEMUp Educational Foundation)

Dulan Wikumpriya – CEO of CoderDojo Sri Lanka shared “it usually doesn’t cost anything; the vast majority of Dojos operate on 0 LKR. The venue is donated for free, typically corporate offices, canteens, community centers, libraries or schools; all volunteers running Dojos donate their time, and some kids bring their own devices”.

What is CoderDojo @ Libraries Program

Dojos have been running in libraries all around the world and with good reason: a public library is an ideal venue for hosting a Dojo. CoderDojo Sri Lanka officially launched the program here in Sri Lanka at Public Library, Colombo 07 with over 30 participants.

According to Prabhath Mannapperuma – Director – STEMUp Educational Foundation, “It was great to see how children attended the CoderDojo Library session along with their parents during the weekend. This program will help to attract more teenagers to libraries as well”

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CoderDojo also launched CoderDojo @ Libraries with over 30 participants taking part (Image Credits: STEMUp Educational Foundation)

What began as a collection of Code.org activities has now expanded to an introduction to Micro:bit as well. Having successfully carried out the first CoderDojo session, further sessions are planned to be carried out at the Children’s library once a month by their volunteers. If you are interested in starting your own Dojo at a library, you can fill out this form

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