How Bocar is on a mission to grow CoderDojo in Senegal
At the CoderDojo Foundation, we are always happy to share inspiring stories of passionate community members around the world who are volunteering their time to bring coding opportunities to more young people worldwide.
Over the past months, we have been fortunate enough to work with one such champion, Bocar Ndiaye, who has recently set up eight new Dojos in Senegal. Bocar has kindly shared his amazing story with us, so that we may inspire more champions, mentors, and Ninjas across the globe to get involved!
Bocar works as an Assistive Technologist in his home country of Canada, having realised, when he was a student in the 1990s, the power of tech and the positive impact that technology skills can have on society. He says, “As an assistive technologist, I am always looking for technologies that can empower marginalised people.”
Accessible and open-source learning
Bocar continued to share his knowledge in this way, making use of accessible coding tools to allow more people to learn new skills. “For a while my main focus was to make computers accessible to people with disabilities using a low-cost, open-source microcontroller called Arduino. When the Raspberry Pi came along as a low-cost and accessible personal [tool] to teach students programming and electronics, I realised the potential for Africa to embrace this technology in schools.”
With its free, open-source model, CoderDojo presented itself as the perfect option for Bocar to implement his mission in schools in his country of origin, Senegal. “While trying to figure how to introduce and teach simple programming to kids, I stumbled upon the CoderDojo Foundation, which has been around for a while teaching programming to kids across the world.”
Starting the CoderDojo journey
The CoderDojo movement places a strong emphasis on openness and accessibility, and on showing how coding can be a force for positive change in the world. Dojos can be set up and run with minimal equipment, and doing so is intended to be low-cost; if necessary, Dojo champions seek financial support from sponsors or receive in-kind donations of hardware. This allows more Ninjas access to the learning opportunities offered in a CoderDojo, where they can both have fun and gain valuable skills for their future.
Bocar illustrated his experience of getting his Dojos off the ground: “While the CoderDojo ethos is volunteer-based, the reality in Africa is that not everyone has a computer like in the developed world. So our solution to the lack of computers was to use the low-cost, affordable Raspberry Pi computer […]. We were able to get a few donations towards the newly created CoderDojos to give them a leg up for success.”
If you are interested in supporting your local Dojo with an in-kind donation, you can read more about how you can do this here.
Getting communities involved with eight new Dojos!
Having liaised with teachers and officials in schools around the country, Bocar visited Senegal in March and succeeded in setting up eight verified Dojos! These include Ecole Primaire BABA GANGUE ex Ecole 1 @ Xelal Pikine, Écoles Élémentaires Ale Codou-Ndoye, and École Élémentaire de Médina Abdoul.
Bocar has been very active in promoting his mission to develop CoderDojo in Senegal, and has encouraged many others to become involved. “We’ve also organised meetings with officials in Senegal (DGSE), inviting volunteers, teachers, administrators, and officials, who were very impressed by the CodoDojo system and Raspberry Pi.” Bocar has also held meetings with local authorities about scaling CoderDojo throughout the region and about how they can support this goal, and their reactions have been very positive.
Bocar and his volunteers have now held several Dojo sessions in Senegal, with lots of Ninjas getting involved through their schools and having fun in the process! Bocar will continue with his mission and bring learning opportunities to more young people. “The success of our trip to Senegalis due to many collaborators, volunteers, and officials from various parts of the world. [This] has encouraged us to work harder, so that every school in Senegal can have a CoderDojo.”
If you feel inspired by Bocar’s story and are interested in setting up a Dojo in your own community, you can find more information here.