Winning an award for creating a digital dictionary while he was still in school has inspired Prabhath Mannapperuma to foster a legion of budding young programmers in remote corners of Sri Lanka.
Mannapperuma, 24, heads a team of volunteers who fan out all over the country – firing up students with the Micro:bit, a tiny programmable device, and the message that writing computer code is no arcane art but within the reach of inquisitive fingers and curious minds.
“Kids come up with new solutions for their day-to-day problems. Having the required computational thinking is vital for their future,” says Mannapperuma, an IT professional and self-styled tech-evangelist.
Microbit’s appealing block-based programming designed to familiarise youngsters with coding and interconnectivity spurred Mannapperuma to introduce it in his country.
He approached the UK-based Micro:bit Education Foundation a year ago with his idea of encouraging schoolchildren outside the more privileged urban areas to learn coding skills.