last updated 26/06/2018
turning PASSION into PURPOSE
last updated 26/06/2018
Scratchpad teaches children to become creators, not consumers
When Vijesh Nangia was talking to a teacher at his children’s Auckland school, the subject of technology came up. ‘We’re very advanced – all our students use iPads,’ the teacher said proudly. Vijesh wasn’t so sure. ‘All that’s doing is making children consumers of technology,’ he pointed out. ‘What we should be teaching them is to become creators and innovators.’ And that’s how Scratchpad was born.
Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres are designed to help kids learn to control computers and phones rather than be controlled by them. By teaching coding, robotics and 3D printing they help kids develop their life skills in collaboration, problem solving and creative thinking. In addition to after-school classes, weekend sessions and holiday activities, Scratchpad also offers virtual sessions, parent/child sessions and runs sessions at schools.
The first Scratchpad opened in St Lukes in 2015 and soon had an avid fan base among kids and parents alike, with interest growing further after it appeared on Seven Sharp on TV1. A pilot franchise opened in Botany in 2017 and has already achieved phenomenal success, so Vijesh engaged top specialists Franchize Consultants to develop the business model prior to launching it nationwide. He’s keen to find people passionate about technology and teaching to come on board.
Vijesh is not just a concerned parent but a veteran of the IT industry. He was working in the UK when IBM head-hunted him for a senior position in New Zealand in 1998 and now owns CYMA, a consultancy with 30 staff specialising in information systems architecture which numbers companies like Vodafone, Vero and Ports of Auckland among its clients.
‘Technology is part of everyone’s future so we need to teach people to use it to be creators and innovators,’ Vijesh says. ‘As an article in the UK Guardian newspaper said recently, “Just as basic ICT skills are essential for any job, coding will soon be a requirement of many industries.” It’s not just about passively sitting in front of a screen.’
Walk into a Scratchpad classroom and that’s immediately apparent, as we found out when we visited one of the holiday programmes. Instead of a bunch of silent young nerds focused on their screens, a group of 20 kids were talking, sharing ideas and asking for solutions to the problems in front of them. Yes, they were programming their own Minecraft mods for the gaming environment, but it was the collaboration between them that really impressed us.
‘I’m going to need help when I get to the entrance,’ one girl called out. ‘I can help you there,’ a boy answered. ‘Have you done xyz yet?’ asked another. Throughout the room, the teamwork was audible. How lively it gets when they are programming Scratchpad’s walking robot or using the 3D printer to create sophisticated models, we could only imagine.
‘People have to learn to work together in real life, and this makes problem-solving fun,’ points out Vijesh. ‘All sorts of careers increasingly require an understanding of technology, so Scratchpad can help reveal a child’s potential or give them a head start. We provide online support, access from home, regular feedback and progress reports to parents, and we even offer parent-and-child coding sessions so mums and dads can get involved and understand.’
Scratchpad franchisees operate from dedicated premises – for example, at St Lukes, the upper storey of an office block near the shopping centre which is convenient for parents. For the last 18 months, Scratchpad has also been offering virtual programmes for schools and individual students which have been eagerly received from Tauranga to Christchurch, and even the small Northland community of Pawarenga, where the local commissioner and principal were keen to get the kids involved in technology.
‘It proves that there is demand for Scratchpad all over the country and we are keen to get franchisees in place right away,’ says Vijesh. ‘Once established, franchisees can earn a professional level of income and a good return on their investment. The total investment required, including all equipment, fit-out, training, software and course schedules, is from $120,000 depending on location, and we will be with you every step of the way as you build your business.
‘Franchisees need to be comfortable with technology and like working with kids. They might be ex-teachers, parents like me, people returning to the workforce or looking for a change of lifestyle. They will do some teaching themselves and employ part-time staff, and must be comfortable managing the various relationships with children, parents, supervisors and schools in their local community. Business experience is helpful; drive and commitment are a must.’
the future is now
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has said, ‘In 15 years, we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing ... and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.’ As Vijesh says, ‘Scratchpad is here already. We’re doing it now, and our kids are having fun doing it.
‘We want to have Scratchpad centres in cities and towns throughout the country. If you’d like to be a part of that and have the qualities we’re looking for, contact me.’
See this advertorial on page 13 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 27 Issue 01
Contact details for Scratchpad
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