Transforming libraries into hubs of digital innovation
Less than half of the 47 million children in Bangladesh will attend school beyond the age of 15. But what if there were another place where young people could go to be inspired, to be creative, to have fun with learning?
The British Council’s Libraries Unlimited programme has harnessed the potential of the library as the heart of the community. Using the micro:bit and Kano, a kit for a computer anyone can build, it has provided free workshops across Bangladesh to increase public access to digital skills training and to teach children to create technology, not just consume it.
This is a completely new experience – it is the first time I’ve done programming. I had great fun!
The first phase of the programme reached 2,000 young people in 12 districts. Young people were tasked with building a Kano computer and then trying out apps that involved “hacking” games or creating art. They were then introduced to the micro:bit and set a challenge designed to encourage their creativity through code.
The majority of participants (88%) were aged 12-16, with a fairly balanced gender split: 51.5% male and 48.5% female. Most of the young people had never coded before and 13% said the workshop was their first time using a computer. But 95% of participants said they would be interested in learning more coding in the future. And 70% more girls said they would choose computing as a subject at school after using the micro:bit.
Sumaya, a 15-year-old girl, said: “This is a completely new experience – it is the first time I’ve done programming. I had great fun! I really want to be a part of more workshops like this.”
I’m really happy to be here today!
Tamim, an 11-year-old boy from Dhaka, said: “I’m fascinated by coding but had never done it before today, that’s why I’m really happy to be here. I want to be a software engineer in the future.”
Micro:bits and Kano kits have now been delivered to 64 public libraries across Bangladesh. By 2021, Libraries Unlimited aims to have provided free access to Kano and the micro:bit for 175,000 children. The ultimate goal is for a library-based code club to be set up in each district using local resources, to make the initiative sustainable for a long time to come.