Put a smartphone in the hands of a 3-year-old and they will know how to download and play their favourite games. Unlike those that came before, an entire generation is now growing up with digital technology at their fingertips. Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan education system has yet to catch up with this new reality, which risks leaving the youth of today as merely consumers but not creators of technology. LearnWare aims to bridge this gap through its efforts to empower kids with the skill of programming – increasingly becoming invaluable in the 21st century.
Founded in February 2019, LearnWare held its 1st open maker space a month later. Organized in collaboration with Colombo City Centre, the maker space saw much interest from parents encouraging their kids to learn to code. Since then, the organization has collaborated with numerous stakeholders to organize several activities to teach coding to kids. These partnerships include the likes of Elecfreaks from China, STEMpedia in India for AI and Machine Learning programmes, the Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC) to provide online coding programmes for A/L students, alongside industry bodies such as SLASSCOM and FITIS.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, LearnWare held several activities including its 1st physical graduation at Hatch. But after the lockdowns, it shifted much of its operations online. Against all odds, it’s curriculum adapted to the new normal. These efforts of virtual learning culminated at its second virtual graduation ceremony held in February, celebrating the achievements of its latest cohort of students. Hosted virtually and streamed on Facebook, the event saw the 100+ young coding students receive their certificates.
Joining the event was the Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of STEMpedia, Abhishek Sharma, who shared a few motivational words with the graduates. Alongside him was Co-Founder and CEO of LearnWare, Kulendra Nimeshanan who also shared his thoughts and a few encouraging words to the young graduates.
The virtual event began with a welcome speech and afterwards a video was exhibited showcasing LearnWare’s past activities and the graduation of its first cohort of young coders. This was followed by a virtual drama titled, “The Future of Coding” that was played out by young students of the initiative. Its core message was to embrace the art of coding and highlighted its importance across different career paths.
Towards the latter half of the virtual programme, LearnWare’s graduates hosted a debate about programming languages amongst themselves. After a solemn conversation amongst themselves, the conclusion these young coders reached was that each programming language has its own speciality. After the debate, the event concluded with the final set of awards being distributed and a vote of thanks. The event was a celebration of its continued efforts towards helping the youth of today learn the skills they need for the world tomorrow.
Appreciating these efforts, one parent said, “The team at LearnWare took my child through this journey. I’m happy she enjoyed the sessions and is proud of herself for obtaining this certification. Thank you to the teachers and the team for their hard work.” While initially having to adapt to the new normal due to the pandemic, LearnWare has since adapted to virtually conduct its activities, which has allowed it to reach more children across geographic barriers. Ultimately, the event offered LearnWare’s students a chance to move forward with the skills needed to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.