At a time when most African educational systems no longer meet the expectations of “geek” students, a robotic lab, Fundi Bots, was born in Uganda, founded by Solomon King who himself dropped out of the University, tired of “studying for exams. ”
The intelligent and calm, Solomon King says, with a wide smile. “I am not a rebel, I am just a man disappointed by our education system.” He rolled up he sleeves and had to so something about it. From this frustration, Fundi Bots, a robotic lab, that receives engineering enthusiasts from the age of six was born.
The word fundi means engineer in Swahili.
“Here in this lab, we put more focus on practice than on long theories. Our schools and universities train people to just take exams! But nothing practical. He says. This reality is unfortunately that of many African countries.
Based in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Solomon King is the Ugandan who 16 years ago, left the university after just a semester. He formed passionately alone on the internet. In his early days, he won two awards in 2014 (Echoing Green Fellowship and Ashoka fellow) with his achievements in robotics and computer science. Today, he wants to help thousands of young people to reveal their talents.
Fundi Bots has a learning room where everything is removable and mobile: this is the case for walls, furniture and the laboratory.
“Everything is mobile here, we can customize the learning room according to what we want. It’s our magic here, “says Rosebell Nsita, Public Relations Officer at Fundi Bots.
Like her team leader, she too was disappointed by the education system, before discovering her talents in human relations in this organization. Rosebell has been passionate about art since she was very young. But the theory lessons of Ugandan universities have not helped her to pursue her passion. She explains that it is especially by taking inspiration from her experience that she had this desire to help other young people discover their potential through Fundi Bots.
“Classes are free when you register with Fundi Bots and learners are guided in courses of their choice. We have opened this lab specifically for students who feel dissatisfied with what they are learning at university. We teach them the basics of computer science, mechanics and electronics. We do everything so that they learn in a fun way.”
Henry (in black) facilitating a session.
Fundi Bots has proved his skills, so much so that today he is asked in primary and secondary schools in Uganda to provide practical courses in parallel with the theory. This generates an income for the administrative expenses of the lab, which is added to the external financing already collected by Fundi bots. Learning in this lab is via robots.
This way of learning through practice aims to make students learn better and faster. Some have better grades in their universities after their internships at Fundi Bots. “Our methods have recently helped a young person who throughout his school career was terrible in physics. But after learning from practice here at home, her grades in this class have improved. He distinguished himself and he does science at the university, “says Rosebella
Henry, 26, is a trainer at Fundi Bots. It is he who guides us around the laboratory. A treasure room for our eyes that had never seen robots invented by Africans. Wooden rover, with printed cards with exceptional diagrams, or a 3D printer. We were amazed by everything we saw: respect for the proportions and details of these robots. “Personally, I would like to change people’s lives through robotics. I plan to work on an agricultural application to allow Ugandan farmers to increase their output and household income. ” Henry says.
It should be noted that Henry has a university degree, but says that he learned almost nothing concrete. Fundi Bots is the school where his abilities have been enhanced. Today, his greatest joy lies in his ability to create new concepts, which he could not have achieved elsewhere other than in the Lab Fundi bots, he believes. For Solomon King, changing or impacting one life is already a success – dozens of stories of lives changed positively since Fundi bot’s inception.
“We have already had more than 3,000 learners in our walls, and the following years we intend to extend to Rwanda and Tanzania with the help of our partners.” Solomon King deplores the fact that the Ugandan government, which has promised to integrate the best practice provided by Fundi Bots into the national education program, is yet to deliver on its promise.
“As usual, they promise more than they realize,” said Solomon King. He remains confident for the rest of the program and his ultimate dream is that by 20 years, Africa will have caught up in technology and youth employment.”But if possible we would like to do it in less time,” he hopes confidently.