School robotics: using robots to solve the African education problem
Posted on February 24, 2014
My name is Solomon King. I am 30, Ugandan, and believe that robotics can transform education across Africa.
How it works is: Fundi Bots (the company I founded) brings robot kits that contain Arduinos, soldering irons and engineering textbooks to classrooms. This provides a practical experience and resources that is not typically found in schools to help educate learners through a different medium that grooms them to think both differently and creatively.
My biggest passion is to see Africans solving Africans problems. In most occasions Africa gets assistance from abroad, or even worse, takes solutions created for international problems and “cookie-cuts” them for the African environment. But it doesn’t quite work that way, because of the different mindsets and different environments; just the weather conditions alone are strange. So the idea of Fundi Bots is rather to develop African minds to solve African problems. It’s called Fundi Bots but it’s less about the robots and more about the process of building the robots.
The idea is a way to build a new breed of thinkers and innovators. The thing about robotics is it’s one discipline, but there’s a million sub-disciplines in it. Occasionally I tell the students that when they’ve finished their first robot, they’ve learnt about electronics, logical thinking, programming, mechanics and even a bit about biology. At the end of the process, we have created a small army of people who look at problems from a creative angle.
Being in the grassroots of operation, the concept is still being developed, with the company running from my house. The core focus of our strategy, in this initial phase of business, is promotion and exposure, experimentation and technological growth in the fields of electronics and robotics.So as frequently as possible I give presentations on robotics and electronics to high school students through invitations from Cafe Scientifique (a local corporation to Uganda I have partnered with).
Though small scale the strategy works for me because it allows us to go straight to the consumer. We had the idea, created the product, and now, not only are we testing it the market, but we are gaining exposure and clients at the same time. Our dream is big, but the only way to build a house is one brick at a time. Being certain of our story’s end, we are patiently waiting for success. But in the mean time, we are excited to know that through Fundi Bots, we are not only transforming education on the continent, but, we are shaping mindsets. What’s your business doing?