Saturday Kids Impact Report: 2020

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H E L LO, WO R L D C HAP TER 1 Why Digital Literacy?

CH AP TER 2 Our Theory of Change

CH AP TER 3 Case Studies

C HAP TER 4 Our Strategic Direction

CH AP TER 5 Meet Our Community 3

THE FUTURE B E LO N G S TO K I D S. We’re Saturday Kids, and we’re redefining digital literacy education so kids can build a better future.


Redefining digital literacy

We develop forwardlooking coding curricula that inspire and enable kids to use technology to shape a better future for themselves and others.

Learning how to learn

We design engaging, play-based learning experiences, in a safe space where making mistakes is part of the learning process.

Leaving no child behind

By working with partners and sponsors, we provide foundational coding education that aims to leave no child behind.


“When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. Similarly as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them.� - Douglas Rushkoff Author, Media Theorist, & Academic


Digital literacy matters. While many kids consume tech substantially in some shape or form, in order to address inequality and the other big questions of the future, every child needs a fair chance at creating with it. We’ll be the first to admit that this challenge is too big for us to tackle on our own. From access to the internet, to the supply of equipment, to reaching every curious child - it takes a village. But thanks to the support of change-makers across public and private sectors around the world, we’re on our way there. As a school and social enterprise, our superpower is creating curricula kids love while inspiring their curiosity through code. What’s yours?


Opening doors and building bridges with code. In many parts of the world, digital literacy isn’t considered fundamental or essential. But in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous) world, we believe it could be just what kids need to realise and leverage the possibilities of the future.

Inclusion in a digital future Programming is a technical skill that spans culture and language. Digitally literate kids are poised to seize roles in the fastest growing industries, make informed decisions and claim their seat at the table as creators and decision makers.

Inventing an inclusive future The tech industry has a diversity problem - skewed representation has already led to problematic outcomes. Investing in access to tech for all - especially kids from under-represented backgrounds - is the best insurance for better tech, and a better future.

Coding to learn Learning to code can help kids develop key transferable skills like problem-solving, social-emotional competencies and more. Done right, when kids learn to code, they can learn so much more in the process.

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Sources (pages 8 & 9):

What holds our kids back? The world is changing, and too many kids are being left behind due to structural inequalities. Through code, we aim to create opportunities for every kid on the wrong side of these divides. Gender inequality

Urban poverty

Globally, less than 20% of tech leadership are women. At the world’s most well-known tech companies, staff who identify as male make up the vast majority. And in the world’s least developed countries, women are 52% less likely to be online than men.

3.7 billion people globally lack internet access, most of whom live in lower-income countries. But even in Singapore, fewer than half of households living in 1-2 room HDB flats have internet access and own personal computers.

Infrastructure poverty Most coders come from cities because infrastructure is key to digital literacy education. Where infrastructure is scarce, schools are more likely to be underresourced and lack connectivity and power. 9

A story from Malakasa refugee camp

Just 40km from the city of Athens in Greece, Malakasa refugee camp hosts over 2500 refugees, most of whom are Afghan and arrived in Greece by boat via the East Thrace sea. 39% of the camp’s residents are children. Source: Images courtesy of Happy Caravan.


“When I introduced Beebot and Strawbees to the children in Malakasa refugee camp in 2019, my vision was to provide an opportunity for them to express their x creativity and curiosity. We often did not have enough materials for each student, so they had to learn to share and work together in order to complete their projects. Some struggled, but soon mastered how to be collaborative and work as a team. Children who live in refugee camps rarely have access to digital education, or to any form of education at all. I believe digital literacy can help them access digital learning spaces, regardless of age, gender, religion, or social class. With a simple smart phone and internet access, digital education brings some equality and accessibility to children living in refugee camps. Digital literacy is a fundamental skill in these changing times. We hope that by introducing the first step of digital literacy to our students, they can explore the world of possibilities of a self-sustaining learning practice.” - Momoko Iwagami, Executive Director, Happy Caravan Happy Caravan is a non-profit organisation providing education for children in refugee camps in Greece. A founding member of Saturday Kids Japan, Momo volunteered to bring Saturday Kids’ curriculum to refugee kids in Greece, before joining Happy Caravan in 2019. 11

CURIOSIT Y C H A N G ES T H E WO R L D. We’ve got big goals and a plan to reach ‘em.


We’re using code to create opportunity. Our programmatic and product-based interventions aim to increase access to digital literacy education for kids in urban poor and infrastructure-scarce communities, while increasing female representation in coding and tech. 13

O u r M o de l fo r C h a n g e


In a nutshell, this is how we’re working towards a brighter, more inclusive future for kids. A world where no child is left behind from purposefully applying the potential of technology. <

Greater diversity and representation in the tech industry <


Increased standards of living and community development

Access to viable career opportunities in tech fields <

Kids equipped with digital literacy and basic coding skills


Coding classes and exposure to STEM for pre-teen and teenagers

Upskilling and viable career opportunities



Engender aspiration and a sense of possibility <

Routes of success


Stimulate interest in digital literacy for young kids


Experience of digital literacy education for kids

Instructor training and placement programmes for adults

“Though our education system has its merits, there remains a significant disparity in opportunity for education. These children, no matter their background, have dreams just like every other child, and the motivation to work hard to achieve them. As educators and as a society, we should never diminish their aspirations and reinforce entrenched social stigmas about their potential. We need to give them opportunities to realise their potential and discover new pathways that they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to. Companies like Saturday Kids who provide such opportunities really empower these children, and more private and public organisations should contribute to this cause.�

- Olivia, Code in the Community volunteer


L E AV I N G NO CHILD B E H I N D. Because every kid - regardless of background or circumstance - deserves a fair shot at a bright future, however they choose to define it.



It’s not just what you learn, but how you learn. In an volatile world, no one can predict the skills that will be needed in the future, and that’s why we believe that learning how to learn is more important than any one skill. Our pedagogy aligns with the process of learning in the real world - in our classrooms, kids are free to try things out and free to fail, as long as they figure out what went wrong and try again. Via this play-based approach, our curriculum is designed to inspire and enable kids to use technology to shape a better future for themselves and others. Collaborating with sponsors and partners (like you!), we’re working towards providing foundational digital literacy education so that no child is left behind. Developed at our basecamps in Singapore and Tokyo, our curriculum’s been places! Delivered by our instructors and a tribe of trained volunteers, we’ve reached over 6000 kids globally.


Our mission’s taken us around the world! Malakasa, Greece

Phnom Penh, Cambodia



Taipei, Taiwan

Manila, Philippines

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

đ&#x;“? Singapore

đ&#x;“? Tokyo, Japan 19

C o de i n t h e C om m u n i t y Saturday Kids is the programme manager for Code in the Community, Singapore’s largest free digital literacy initiative for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, supported by Google and the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore. In order to be able to create the future, kids need to be able to speak its language. In Singapore, where group coding classes typically cost more than S$30 an hour, the benefits of a comprehensive digital literacy education are limited to kids with greater financial means.


Through Code in the Community, we’re bringing together stakeholders across public and private sectors to run free multi-level coding classes for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. By training volunteers to deliver up to 64 hours of a multi-level curriculum for kids ages 8-16 with a low student to instructor ratio, we’re creating creators of technology, one child at a time.


Growing our impact

Learn more about CITC here

Our first cycle of Code in the Community ran from 2017-2019. As we scale up, the next phase of the programme from 2020-2022 involves training 1500 new volunteers to reach and inspire more kids. 2017-2019











want to continue coding


described the course as fun


71% tried to learn more coding beyond class

“Code in the Community opened up whole new possibilities about what I can do when I grow up.” - Sean, CITC graduate

We’re all in this together. Bridging the digital divide is a whole-nation effort, and we’ve gotten by with a little help from our friends. Partners from both public and private sectors have come forward to provide their support by recruiting volunteers, sponsoring training venues, and advocating for the programme. Check out page 38 for the details! Findings on both pages are based on the responses of students surveyed respectively. Statistics for 2020-2022 are projected numbers.


Wh a t c a n kids l e arn i n 6 4 ho urs? Here’s what a child’s learning progression at Code in the Community could look like.

Kids ages 8-12 Intro to Scratch

An introduction to basic computer science concepts like variables, conditionals, and loops via block-based programming language, Scratch. Code simple games and animations, culminating in a personal project.

Applications of Scratch

Apply programming and engineering concepts to hands-on projects that combine software and hardware - build robots and bring them to life with servos, sensors, Strawbees and the Quirkbot!

Kids ages 13-16 Intro to Python

Learn basic programming concepts like algorithms and functions through text-based programming language Python, applied to a personal project.

Applications of Python


Apply Python to programme a micro:bit, and create an emoji messaging programme, movement alarm, and other cool projects. Learn about Breakout Boards, Radios, NeoPixels and create a capstone project.

B eyo n d t h e cla s s r o o m . . . We team up with corporates and generous individuals so that we can provide even more learning opportunities beyond our Code in the Community classrooms. So far, over 200 kids from disadvantaged backgrounds have continued their learning journeys with us after graduation.

Pay it Forward

Saturday Kids matches donations to our Pay it Forward fund to sponsor seats for Code in the Community graduates in our commercial holiday camps and weekly classes. To date, over 30 kids from Code in the Community have benefited from continued learning opportunities because of donors who’ve paid it forward.

CITCx Scholarships

Expanding kids’ interest in and exposure to the world of STEM, we partner corporates and individuals to provide continued learning opportunities to Code in the Community graduates through tailored workshops in a variety of STEM and coding subjects.

... to the c om m u n i t y . 23

C o d i n g C a ts Together with Raintree Cambodia, we piloted early-stage digital literacy to inspire the next generation of technical creators for Cambodia’s growing digital economy. Recent research has identified a pressing need for technical skills at all levels to meet the demands of Cambodia’s fast-growing economy. With grants from USAID and Cambodian telco Smart Axiata, Coding Cats was designed to enable kids to develop technical skills for the digital economy, while cultivating competencies traditionally overlooked in the mainstream education system, such as problem-solving, creativity, confidence, resourcefulness, and communication. As part of our pilot, we identified and trained 35 young Cambodian instructors to deliver a localised 16 hour Scratch curriculum to 200 students in Phnom Penh, aged 7-16, from a mix of public and private schools and representing an even balance of genders.

A sample of pilot outcomes Before After


79.4% 96.6%

described themselves as curious about how things work.


78.4% 93.2%

agreed that the process of learning is enjoyable.

In addition, a team of instructors voluntarily translated the Scratch platform into Khmer - effectively lowering barriers to learning to code for kids all over Cambodia who are primarily fluent in the Khmer language. 24

8 d le e


“Coding Cats helped me build my confidence of presenting and delivering my project to my classmates without any fear. It also taught me how important coding is to my life.” - Kimy, Coding Cats graduate

84.9% described Read our team’s on learning asreflections Coding Cats enjoyable Before: 78.4%


Pr oj e c t E m p owe r Carving out access to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its applications for young women in Singapore regardless of computer science experience. In partnership with non-profit 21C Girls and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, we piloted Project Empower, a 42-hour programme to introduce students to the basics of artificial intelligence. The programme’s holistic approach combined self-directed, technical learning with conversations with entrepreneurs and discussions on ethics and governance, with the ultimate aim to arm Singaporean youth with the ability to creatively apply AI to any 21st century industry.

Af t er c o m p le tin g Pr oje c t E m p owe r. ..

70% want to explore a career in AI or Data Science


89% are excited to learn more about AI or Data Science

81% intend to show their capstone projects to prospective employers

“Empower taught me that, despite your background, you can still learn how to program. This was a really interesting experience and allowed me to fully understand my interest in programming, especially in the AI sector.� - Isabel, Project Empower graduate

Go behind the scenes of Project Empower


W H AT ’S NEXT? Charting the way forward with our strategic direction for 2021 and beyond.



Applied Coding for Big Ideas

We’ve spent the last 8 years inspiring kids with our creative coding curricula. Next, we’re teaching kids about the tangible applications of code, starting with Code Meets World: Applied Coding for Big Ideas - a year-long programme where kids learn about real-world problems and grapple with data to explore, analyse and communicate the big questions and ideas shaping the world using code.

It’s a big world filled with big ideas. In Code Meets World, kids start by learning to use HTML and CSS to build personal homepages and wiki sites, in order to share knowledge about social and environmental issues that are dear to them. Along the way, they examine inventions that have helped address the big problems of the past. Subsequently, they’ll progress to coding animated narratives with social impact themes, and develop simulations using real data. As we move into the next phase of the programme, we’re seeking sponsors and impact organisations to make this accessible to kids anywhere in the world who want to use tech to make a positive impact. Designed with the option of being delivered remotely, we’re working towards a goal of empowering curious kids anywhere on the planet to use tech constructively to address issues in their communities and in the world.

Learn more about Code Meets World


REIMAGINE what it means to learn

Rocket Launcher Training Academy From Singapore to Cambodia, we’ve trained thousands of individuals to deliver our digital literacy curriculum that gets kids excited about tech. Leveraging this experience and cross-cultural expertise, we’re working on scalable solutions to the global shortage of coding instructors to meet the needs of increasingly digital economies everywhere.

Matching talent to opportunity With help from foundations and non-profit organisations, we hope to train instructors from marginalised backgrounds as coding instructors. By creating viable career opportunities, we also hope to develop role models in tech that kids from underrepresented backgrounds can see themselves in.

Lowering Infrastructure Barriers to Digital Literacy What might digital literacy education look like for kids in disaster or conflict zones lacking in infrastructure? For kids whose lives have been disrupted, education can provide valuable stimulation and more. We’re exploring the possibilities of removing as many infrastructural barriers as possible to digital literacy, so that kids in infrastructure poor areas too can discover and leverage the possibilities of tech.

Reimagining curriculum and content delivery With hardware solutions and non-profit organisations on the ground, we’re researching and learning about the space for innovation in unplugged education.


Let’s team up to take on the digital divide. Whether you’re from a corporate, foundation, non-profit working on the ground or just a curious reader - together, we’re stronger than the sum of our parts. We can’t reach every child by ourselves, but with your partnership, we can empower more kids with the ability to invent a brighter, more inclusive future with tech. Our sweet spot is where creativity, innovation, and execution meet. Curriculum design Since 2012, we’ve designed over 300 hours of coding curricula for kids, and we’ve just gotten started. There’s so much for kids to learn and get curious about, and we love designing and collaborating on curricula that spark wonder and a-ha moments that enable kids to realise their potential. Instructor training We’ve trained thousands of individuals from all walks of life in our curricula and play-based pedagogy via remote and in-person programmes. We believe and have seen that anyone with a love for kids and curiosity about technology has the potential to kickstart a kid’s digital literacy journey. Beneficiary matching and project management Whether it’s finding the right course with appropriate learning outcomes for a group of disadvantaged children, ensuring that stakeholders’ objectives are met through a sponsored programme, or evaluating and iterating on a pilot - our team works hard and smart behind the scenes to make things happen. 32

The possibilities for collaboration are endless. But these are a few ideas. Sponsor an impact project Fund a tech-driven educational opportunity for children from disadvantaged backgrounds - find a match from our network of non-profit organisations, or go a step further and train your staff to deliver a workshop. Commission a curriculum Leveraging our expertise and your domain knowledge, let’s work together to co-create a bespoke curriculum at the intersection of code and awesome. Make a donation Our Pay it Forward fund sponsors seats for graduates from Code in the Community to participate in holiday workshops and term-time classes for free. Not ready or able to sponsor a full camp seat? Donations are matched by Saturday Kids, and any amount contributes to crowdfunding the continued tech education of a child from a disadvantaged background. Volunteer with us With a love for kids and an interest in tech, you can play a part in bridging the digital literacy gap by volunteering with Code in the Community as an instructor. Scan the code on the right to find out more.

Find out more about impact collaborations


I T TA K ES A V I L L AG E . Get to know ours.


Who are the Saturday Kids? Ours is a motley crew connected by a love of kids and proclivity for thinking outside the box. Here’s a glimpse of what our diverse team brings to the table.

John, Founder, Angel Investor, Obama Leader

Fongyee, Instructor, Multidisciplinary Artist, Volunteer at Hopefull

Shreya, Code in the Community, Indian Classical Dancer

Kloey, Designer, #WomenwhoCode

Yoshi, Country Manager, Coordinating Ambassador for One Young World 35

Sam, Chief Executive Officer, Mum of 3

Victoria, Code in the Community Lead, Founder of The Bright Life

We’re former investment bankers, designers, scientists, social entrepreneurs, and research scientists who’ve worked in organisations like J.P. Morgan, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the United World College. We’ve worked, lived, and studied in Asia, the US, South America, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Our diversity is one of our superpowers. Just as kids aren’t cut from a mould, we know that cookie cutter solutions just don’t cut it.

F un fa c ts ab out our t e am . . .

Scan to find out more about our team

20% of us are working Moms

33% of us are working parents

Over 70% of us identify as female 36

Between us, our birthplaces span Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines!

Me e t o u r c o m mu n i ty .

Kavithraa, Code in the Community graduate.

Our impact is fuelled by a community of kids and change-makers who point to the stars and provide rockets. Here are just a few of them.

Thearith & Voneat, Coding Cats. instructors.

Sean, Code in the Community graduate. Sanjit & Janelle, Code in the Community graduates and pilot participants in Code Meets World.

Vantharith, Coding Cats Instructor and his oldest daughter.

Yi Kai, Code in the Community graduate and volunteer.

Nirupan & Alisyah, Code in the Community graduates.

Michael, Code in the Community volunteer. Kingsley, Code in the Community graduate. Dr Ayesha Khanna from 21C Girls and Project Empower graduates.

Marija from

Sihui, Code in the Community volunteer. Ethan, Code in the Community graduate. 37

Joi n t h e m ove m e nt . We’ve been supported by a tribe of awesome corporates, organisations, and individuals. Impact Partners and Donors Catchplus CDAC Cognizant Development Innovations Edugrow for Better Tomorrows EPAM Systems Eurasian Association Glyph Asia Google Govtech Hewlett Packard Enterprise Infocomm Media Development Authority ITE College Central Micron MOE Uplift Office Nanyang Polytechnic National Library Board

NTU Open Source Society People’s Association Raintree Cambodia Republic Polytechnic REC Foundation SAP SINDA Singapore Institute of Technology Singapore Polytechnic Sixth Sense SJI International Skyscanner Smart Axiata SSO@Bedok SSO@Boon Lay SSO@Kreta Ayer SSO@Woodlands Superhero Me

USAID VEX Robotics Yayasan Mendaki

Pay it Forward Donors Alejandro Seif Anandh Kumar Kaliyamoorthy Andrew Tan Jin Shen Bak Zhee Shuen Bryant Khoo Che Diala Chong Ming Wei Daylon Soh En Hui Ong Hariharan Srinath Jacqueline Ang Yun Han Jonathan Juan Santosa Jum Tan Zijie Lai Wen Cheng Lee Hoi Leong 38

Lim Ken Khoon Michael Xander Grey Michelle Yong Monk’s Hill Ventures Ng Jun Han Calvin Nito Buendia Rajeshwar Agrawal Ruchi Prakash Saravanan Natarajan Steven Ho Tang Chia Li Valerie Tejas Ewing Yadav Sunil Aachhelal Zay Yar Lin

Our Pay it Forward fund goes towards subsidising free seats for Code in the Community graduates in Saturday Kids’ term-time and weekly programmes. Find out more here:

“I want to show kids: this is a possible future for you. You can make this into a career. I’m just someone like you who just grew up. I do these things and it’s totally possible for you too.’’ - Swe, Saturday Kids Curriculum Developer


Scan for a digital copy

Who knows what we can do if we put our heads together? Join us in our mission to leverage the power of digital literacy so no child gets left behind. saturday_kids 40 saturdaykidssg

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