A program called Fundi Bots in Uganda is giving students the opportunity to build robots in order to increase creativity and hands-on skills.
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How would you like to be able to create your own robot? In Uganda school, pupils and university students are being given the materials and support they need to create simple robotic machines as a way of encouraging hands-on skills. Solomon King founded Fundi Bots seven years ago. Your Global News podcast fun fact of the day is that fundi means craftsmen in Swahili. Fundi Bots now works with 60 schools and over 3000 students. Allen Kazuga went to visit Solomon and some of the young people he's working with at their robotic workshop in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
So this in particular is a type of robot. It's like the next version of the robot that we are building to help kids especially the younger kids. And so it's a nice little two-wheel robot that is very easy to build and assemble.
And it just looks like a toy I'd make or a toy used to make when I was a kid.
So the thing about children in Africa is that many of them are actually building their own gadgets. You know many of them don't have access to the kind of resources that you know expensive toys require. And so many of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, we had to build our own toys. But now we are in a place where we can automate those toys. And this was the dream that I had as a child. What if this little thing building would actually move.
Obstacle detected within one meter. All system optimum. Initiating collision avoidance. Please stand by.
Once a child has built a robot, they have a long interest in the robots. They are saying I can actually make something react to light. I can make it react to sound.
So they go for more complex things?
Yes they've got more complex things, but they also go for solving solutions within their communities just like the students behind are doing.
Thank you. Goodbye.
Solomon, so you go to a lot of schools to try to get them to warm up to this idea of learning. Well what sort of response do you get?
The biggest response really is a sort of apathy.
Yes. Apathy. Because many schools are very focused on helping students pass examinations, and it's less about the actual knowledge. Ultimately education is not about passing tests. It's not about a certain grade. It's about knowledge. It's about knowledge and how you apply that knowledge to your daily life. But also in Ugandan context and a lot of African countries, our context is that we are teaching less and less practical science in the classroom.
If I come back from workw one day and I found that my son had opened up by radio and fiddled with it, should I be annoyed?
Ahhh, yes because it's an expensive radio. But ultimately I think that it's something that you should encourage in a more creative way because this is someone who is trying to understand the world around them. I think, and this is from a point of ignorance because I'm not a parent, but I think the mistake that many parents make is that they make decisions for their children. My personal philosophy is let the child explore as much as possible and see where their interests are and then nurture those interests.
You are clearly not a parent.