We have always heard the saying “Children are the leaders of tomorrow” so many times, but how many of us actually do anything to help these children achieve their dreams and prepare them for “tomorrow”.
Meet a guy who believes and is actually doing something about it. He is the founder of KnowIT, an NGO that helps children discover their talent and work towards achieving their dreams in the line of Information Technology (IT).
Can you introduce yourself?
I am Biodun Chris, a student of the University of Ibadan, 300 level studying Computer Science. I’m a people lover, a tech enthusiast, a programmer and a full stack web developer.
How did KnowIT come to be?
KnowIT came as a result of my passion to help people. It all began when I started taking some of my guys in programming. Programming is what I do and since I love people I thought, teaching people who wanted to learn programming is a way to impact them positively. So I formed a group and had my friends join in and teach students, in the process I met a lecturer in my department, he organized a bootcamp, Geek Girls Collaboration Club (GEGCOC), to train girls in programming and I was one of the tutors. Then I thought that I could go beyond teaching my classmates and beyond the University of Ibadan, I could reach out to more people in the world. Seeing kids in other countries like the USA and how awesome they are at programming, I thought I could bring the same thing down to Nigeria and help our kids learn to programme even at a very young age. So I started KnowIT.
What’s the idea behind the name KnowIT?
The goal of KnowIT is to teach kids programming and it is an aspect of information technology, so we want them to know information technology (IT). Hence the name KnowIT.
Since the first bootcamp was free, do you plan on making the others free or does it become paid after several bootcamps?
The goal is to make it free, as free as possible actually, forever. The dream is to have a hub, our own building with free internet where kids come to any time and code free of charge.
What were the challenges you faced with the first bootcamp?
Money was the major issue. It was our first time, so we couldn’t get sponsors on time and it was tough getting a venue and getting kids to register. We visited 12 schools and invited them but some were not nice to us. Afterwards, only one of the schools responded and said they couldn’t go through with it. Eventually, my department granted me one of their lecture halls to host the bootcamp. On the first day of the bootcamp, we were asked to leave the hall we were using for certain reasons. We tried getting another venue but failed so we went back and pleaded and we were granted access.
How many sponsors were you able to get?
We got 4 sponsors.
Mr. Fela Oguntoye, Head of Sales, Deli Foods, Nigeria.
Dr. Seyi Osunade, Director, ITeMs, UI.
Dr Bolanle Oladejo, HOD, Computer Science Dept, UI.
Dr. Nancy Woods, Lecturer, Computer Science Dept, UI.
When will the next boot camp take place?
I can’t say exactly because we are still trying to make a name, secure a good venue and get a lot of kids to register for the next bootcamp. We want to have a nice preparation, so it would be better than the previous one.
So, we should expect something bigger and better for the next bootcamp?
Yes, you should. It is going to be dope.
Where do you see KnowIT in 5 years from now?
I see KnowIT as an institution, a large one, where kids code and learn free of charge, strictly kids.
It seems KnowIT is all about kids. Is this out of a love for children?
It isn’t but don’t get me wrong, I do love kids.
Then why are kids the focus of KnowIT?
It is because they are the future, I believe that children are the leaders of tomorrow.
From the last bootcamp held, do you think KnowIT is on the right track to achieving its aim?
Yes, we are. We started something, it was a huge success and we really hope to get better.
What prompted your interest in Computer programming?
It was back when I was in primary school, I’ve just always loved computers. I loved operating and doing anything with them. Then I started graphic designing in secondary school, I wouldn’t say I loved or had any interest in programming then, I didn’t. I just knew I wanted to keep using computers till I die, that was my thought then. When I applied for Computer Science in UI I thought it was all about Microsoft Word, Paint and Corel Draw, then I discovered that it was more than that. So I thought, okay, nice. I want to create something too. So I stuck with programming.
What do you do asides programming?
I watch series when I can. My laptop is always with me wherever I go, I don’t feel comfortable without it. I tweet and WhatsApp.
It was nice meeting you Biodun.
Let’s look at some photos from the last bootcamp
For more information on KnowIT, checkout their website http://www.knowit.org.ng/