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Fundi Spaces - Community Spaces for Technology, ICT and Business Skills Training.

Teach youth how to build robots, giving them high-impact, hands-on vocational skills and empowering them to be technology entrepreneurs.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Science education in Uganda (and many African countries) has been reduced to teaching enough theory to simply pass exams. Practical, problem-based learning and experimentation has fallen by the wayside. This leads to poor overall classroom performance, poor skills development, low job & career prospects and ultimately, weak economic development. Fundi Bots is intervening by working with schools and communities to provide hands-on, practical STEM / general science education in classrooms and communities. For school training, we currently use robotics clubs, for communities, we want to use open-access "Fundi Spaces" which will reach more communities and impact more youth. Fundi Spaces are places where all youth can access our robotics training, workshops, events, innovation tools and resources at no cost. Why robots? For our students, building robots has three fundamental learning outcomes: 1) Learn core principles of STEM; electronics and mechanical engineering, woodwork, metalwork, computer programming and soft skills like team-work, project management and design thinking. 2) Get hands-on, real-world access to relevant, modern skills that lead directly to job opportunities, specifically in technology and vocational industries. 3) Use their new skills, knowledge and technology to solve bigger challenges within their communities, and, through entrepreneurship training, can lead to extended economic and social impact in agriculture, energy and health.

WHO BENEFITS?

Our beneficiaries are in two main tiers: 1. Youth who get readily marketable technical skills for employ-ability, and because some become socially responsible entrepreneurs, it creates a bigger beneficiary ecosystem in communities and sectors. 2. Teachers (most of whom are youth) who receive better STEM education skills and meaningful employment. These teachers then spread and share the new teaching methodologies to other beneficiaries creating a ripple effect across communities.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

Since 2011, Fundi Bots has used STEM training to improve learning outcomes for 2,500+ Ugandan youth. We aim for improved - and equal - access to quality science education and training for individual and social change. We are supported by Echoing Green, Ashoka East Africa and Segal Family Foundation

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

The following were our observations after sharing our ideas with our beneficiaries: • More General IT / Computer training Initially, our scope was (and has been) robotics, but our beneficiaries requested for a more diverse set of learning resources in general IT and other readily marketable computing skills like digital design. • Increase scope of available resources at the laboratory (library and internet) Our beneficiaries - who enjoy learning at the Fundi Spaces - have requested access to more resources beyond sciences, technical skills and entrepreneurship; they have mentioned the desire to use the Fundi Space as a space for learning about other subjects, including law, agriculture, etc. • Intellectual Property (IP) Many beneficiaries (at the university level) are worried about commercial viability of their projects if IP is not protected. • Stronger connections to mentors Our beneficiaries have pointed out the need for stronger connections to professionals advisers and mentors. • Certifications & Skill Needs for Recruiters Great advice from expert feedback to assess recruiter's / industry needs and provide Fundi Bots training and certification accordingly.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Fundi Bots provides a strong foundation for science, technology and vocational training that can be applied in practical ways across multiple sectors. Our design is different from other efforts within our field as activities occur across multiple beneficiary sectors/groups within our population. Our focus is increasing access to technical/science based training and modern technology to cultivate practical and relevant skills that help solve everyday challenges within our communities for the benefit all. Fundi Bots utilises a multilevel implementation system founded in community buy-in and engagement. We take a holistic approach to personal and community growth and development to support communities to become self-dependent instead wholly reliant on outside entities. We work to engage youth early on and sustain engagement so that skills can continue to develop and knowledge remains current, to create innovative solutions. While Fundi Bots utilises robotics as the teaching vehicle, the program outcome focuses on creating practical answers to relevant challenges that are community specific, thus the program is can be replicated and applied to other areas worldwide

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

Science education in schools in Uganda (and many African countries) focuses on final examination performance rather than skills- and experience- oriented education. This focus on the examination shortchanges our young people. This has also been compounded by the introduction of Universal Primary and Secondary Education which focuses more on quantity over quality. Additionally, vocational education institutions lack proper infrastructure for conducting practical training, so they compromise on the quality of teaching, leading to high failure and dropout rates. Finally, industrial training is inadequate or weakly implemented, leading to students graduating without industry exposure.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

This is a summary of a few things we're not sure of at this stage. • How can we efficiently build scale for trainers without compromising standards? • Will we have full acceptance and willingness from schools and communities to enrol in the Fundi Bots program? • How do we challenge societal norms in which girls are not given equivalent access to science / vocational education as boys? • We are currently engaging the Ugandan government, but what kind of reception can we expect from other governments beyond what we have experienced at our current level? • Language barrier: how easy will it be to translate our training material to other countries / communities without compromise?

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

The core idea itself is not new, we've had the growth model in our long-term plan for decentralised impact and engagement with communities outside of urban areas. The current implementation model has changed, however. Initially, our focus was on sciences (technology and engineering, specifically using robotics), but over the past few months, we've tweaked the model a little to include a wider range of learning. This includes putting increased emphasis on vocational skills development (woodwork, carpentry, metalwork, etc.), computer literacy skills and innovation as core learning outcomes. We also want to influence youth careers by connecting them to mentors and advisers who are professionals in different industries. This will improve their understanding of careers, entrepreneurship and community innovation. The current model also increases community engagement by creating opportunities for dialogue in which youth solve community challenges through technology. Finally, we're increasing engagement with university students. Previously, we focused on secondary and primary school, but we believe the Fundi Spaces are also ideal for university students.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

Primary implementation is the by Fundi Bots team. For scale we will work with existing and new partners like schools and other youth organisations and leverage our fellowship networks (Ashoka, Echoing Green and Segal Family Foundation). We have curriculum development experts as consultants to help design, review and refine the program areas. We'll also be assisted by a growing network of teachers, volunteers and mentors. Finally, we will engage government for wider systems change.

SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

We want to see impact in two ways: for quantitative impact, a measurable increase in skills, technical knowledge and employment for at least 30,000 youth; for qualitative impact, a (positive) paradigm shift in the mindsets of youth, communities and governments towards science and vocational education. Our biggest question? Self-sustainability. How do we ensure that the Fundi Spaces can continue providing better learning environments for beneficiaries while targeting self-sustainability.

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • Between 6 months and a year

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

IDEO / Amplify has a strong track record of addressing big social challenges through human-centred design thinking, sustainable impact and a people-first approach, which is evidenced through the impact, programme quality and scale of its innovators. We want to leverage this program delivery experience, innovator network and shared goals to help improve the work we do now and the impact it will have on the lives of youth, communities and countries over the next thirty to fifty years.
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Attachments (5)

Fundi_User_Experience_Map__High_School_Student.pdf

Fundi Spaces by Fundi Bots will serve multiple types of beneficiaries who will have slightly different experiences / outcomes. This user experience map is for youth who are currently enrolled in high schools.

Fundi_User_Experience_Map_University_Students.pdf

Fundi Spaces by Fundi Bots will serve multiple types of beneficiaries who will have slightly different experiences / outcomes. This user experience map is for youth who are the university level.

Fundi_User_Experience_Map_School_Dropouts.pdf

Fundi Spaces by Fundi Bots will serve multiple types of beneficiaries who will have slightly different experiences / outcomes. This user experience map is for youth who have either dropped out of school or never been enrolled in schools.

Fundi Bots Corporate Profile_v1.pdf

Our 2015 Corporate Profile highlighting what our technical / vocational training looks like, the impact we've had and why we do it. It primarily focuses on the school-based robotics training programme.

Fundi_Bots_User_Experience_Map_Spaces.pdf

This is our original user experience map showcasing two example beneficiaries; one who learns the skills to be a better engineer and another who discovers how technology can lead to innovation across different sectors.

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Solomon King We've featured your idea in a new blog post celebrating additional ideas from this Challenge. Thank you for your participation in this Challenge! https://challenges.openideo.com/blog/celebrating-youth-empowerment-challenge-ideas

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