The need for the young generation to be acquainted with computers from an early age can’t be overemphasized. We are living in a predominantly digital world that is characterised by perpetual emergence of tech innovations. Oft times I’ve highlighted how pertinent software development is in the quest to keep advancing technologically. If you do a snap survey locally you’ll realize that there is a serious lack of home-grown software applications. That could somehow imply that there’s a need for the teaching of young people to code from early on in order to equip them accordingly. SPROUT has been championing such a cause since 2018 to date.
SPROUT is a not-for-profit organization which enrols young people to undergo coding lessons. The founder of the organization is Peter Kazickas. No payment whatsoever is required for one to have their kids enrolled for the lessons. For enrolment, the child needs only be registered with the SPROUT admin. Lessons are conducted outside normal school hours for the convenience of the participating students. Peter Kazickas once made a trip to Lithuania in 2016 where he was working on a developmental program for young people with a particular focus on young people in tech. He had always been this kind of person who shied away from computer science as stuff meant for geeks. Here he was in Lithuania seeing young people aged 9 or 12 coding or programming robots to do intelligent tasks. This inspired him to want to also learn coding and at the same time, he felt that coding should be learnt by everyone. This is how the idea of his organization, SPROUT, came about.
Circumventing The Incessant Load Shedding
It’s now a recurring pain for most Zimbabweans that daily power is unavailable for the greater part of the day. The average duration most people now enjoy electricity is 5 to 8 hours daily. The durations are usually during the late hours when you’ll normally be asleep. So this has stifled any meaningful progress in most facets particularly where power is central to productivity. It’s with this background that SPROUT decided to leverage solar energy as an alternative power source. With support from the Australian Embassy, SPROUT embarked on building a solar-powered computer lab. The lab was recently commissioned and opened to the public making it the first-ever solar-powered computer lab in Dzivarasekwa.
SPROUT’s Funding Avenues
Like I pointed earlier it’s a not-for-profit organization and gladly welcomes donations from well-wishers. For instance, the construction of the solar-powered lab came about with financial support from the Australian embassy. One of the ways they are getting funding is through developing websites for different clients. One notable client of theirs was a company from the USA that they developed a website for.
In many of my articles, I have repeatedly underscored the need to leverage on solar power. For what it’s worth solar energy is so ubiquitous in Zimbabwe. This SPROUT initiative is one practical example of how solar energy can be an answer to the power woes currently being faced in the country. Imagine what we can achieve as a nation if such initiatives are rolled out all across the country. It’s abundantly clear that solar energy is being seriously neglected yet it’s so available.
I also want to commend the efforts of SPROUT in endeavouring to contribute to the local tech revolution. Tapping into the young people is the way to go if we’re to see marked growth in technology. The greatest constituent of the African continent is the young people (approximately 70% being aged below 30). So initiatives like SPROUT’s are commendable because they appreciate that young people are the future. They also understand that coding skills are central to the future we’re headed to that’ll be majorly driven by tech innovations such as robotics and AI (artificial intelligence).
One thing that inspires me about the founder of SPROUT is his drive and inspiration. The natural tendency for most people is to only embark on an initiative if it’s profit-making. Rather his desire stems from wanting to equip young people with tech-savvy skills. Never mind where the money to conduct the program shall come from and never mind it’s not about making a profit. All I want is to impact young people’s lives – this is Peter Kazickas’ (the founder of SPROUT) heart’s desire. I look forward to the growth of the organization such that more solar-powered computer labs sprout all across the nation.