The Power of Computer Science Education in Underprivileged Children

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Children living below the poverty line are often those who are the most neglected in any society. No matter what country you live in, children in low income and impoverished areas are often forgotten and left behind, and this is exceptionally true in Latin America.

The purpose of the Roberto Carcelen Foundation is to target this community – impoverished children who need to be lifted from the depths and brought into the light. Not only does this help improve the lives of children, but it also helps put an end to the cycle of poverty. When a child is born into poverty, it takes a lot of effort to remove them from that situation, but it is an effort we are willing to put in.

Cantagallo, Lima, Peru

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One of the first communities we considered was Cantagallo, a small area located in the slums of Lima, Peru. The people of Cantagallo want to find opportunities in Lima not afforded to them in the small jungle communities, but the poverty line separates them from this chance. Thus, they’re forced to sleep on beds of old garbage and dangerous, hazardous materials full of syringes and needles.

The target recipients of our foundation is the children of this community, and communities like them. This can also include young adults, with an age range of 14-22. While teens and young adults in the modern world often know a lot about technology and use it in their everyday life constantly, the children of the slums of Peru rarely have any formal education, let alone computing experience.

As an example, the first day of class involves learning how to turn on a computer – a feat most privileged children can accomplish in a millisecond is something that will take these children an entire lesson to learn.

The Power of Education

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Education in the slums is spotty at best. While children can go to a community school, most drop out in order to go into child labor to help support themselves and their family. The jobs they receive are meager and barely put food on the table. These can consist of wiping windshields at stoplights or being forced to submit to the option of manual labor for low pay.

What the Roberto Carcelen Foundation offers these children is tri-fold. One, they’re given a full, warm breakfast, which is often something they go without. Two, the idea of education and a brighter future is given to those who didn’t have such aspirations beforehand. Three, their families are shown that the cycle can be broken and that achieving goals and bettering yourself is possible, no matter where you are.

The amazing thing about our technology classes is how easily children adapt to them, Kids with no pre disposition or previous experience with technology were able to understand the critical an algorithm thinking in an easier natural manner from day one.
These children have an endless ability to learn and absorb new information, and computer science is no exception. Within three months, children taking our computer classes can code their own websites from scratch and use them to help the community through e-commerce and awareness of their hardships.

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Not only do children under the Roberto Carcelen Foundation learn, they thrive. Recently, a team of students and graduates of the foundation’s classes won major awards at two international “hackathons” being held in Lima.

Another Edge

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At this point in time, 25% of RCF graduates are currently working in tech companies with a focus on the environment and they constantly train and expand their knowledge through classes and workshops. Instead of barely bringing in money for their family, they’re the main income maker in their household.

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This kind of success doesn’t come from just computer knowledge – it comes from a drive to want to do, and be, more, but we can’t do it alone. You yourself can help the children of the Cantagallo community. We need you. They need you.

– Roberto Carcelen

See It In Action

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