Its no secret that EPAM puts a lot of effort into raising the next generation. Before, this meant courses for students, still going strong. Recently the next generation of EPAM trainees has gotten even younger: at the beginning of February, EPAM launched the E-kids program for kids ages 8 to 16 in all five EPAM Ukraine locations.
EPAM will continue to support goal #4 —ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Our mission is to develop a new generation of coders and — ideally — to make IT education accessible for all children from a young age. The pilot program started in Kyiv in October 2015, with 46 children of EPAM employees the first graduates. The second round, which started simultaneously in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Vinnytsia, and Dnipropetrovsk, included more than 150 kids. According to E-kids in Ukraine coordinator Iryna, HR Specialist, EPAM, the teachers are the foundation for success for 17 groups in Ukraine.
Its amazing how 52 volunteer teachers with regular jobs and personal life find the inspiration and strength to give valuable knowledge and thirst for learning to our children, to the future of our country, says Iryna. Our teachers are able to see and develop new young talent.Iryna also recognized the contribution of local program coordinators, parents who support their kids interest in programming, and the kids themselves for wanting to learn complex things. The first wave of E-kids participants showed their appreciation for the new knowledge with Thank you! cards.
That response was the motivation for many teachers from the first round to continue in the second. Among them is Pavlo, Lead Software Engineer, EPAM. Pavlo says that the E-kids lessons reminded him of his first steps in programming on primitive devices. “Todays’ kids have a lot more opportunity, but they don’t always know how to use it,” says Pavlo. “Often kids just zone out at the computer, but you can use it to create and invent new things, your own things. You can make your own game, cartoon, letter, or drawing, or program your own robot. That’s inspiring. Personally, I want to engage, the kids in programming, I want them to ‘catch the fever’. Show them that programming isn’t something complex, unclear, and inaccessible, but something amazing.”
E-kids teachers can be not only EPAMers from production, as in the case of Alena, Human Resource Manager, EPAM, who has taken part in both groups. She admits that for her, E-kids is a unique opportunity to better understand Generation Z, which grew up in the internet era. “70% of our youngest children joined the second group,” she says. “We tried – and try – to develop teamwork and willingness to help in the kids, as well as the ability to get results both short-term (at the lessons) and long-term (projects). Each kid had a personal project in the first group, and this time we want to strengthen project skills by making the functionality more complex.”
It might seem that E-kids would overwhelm the kids with programming in addition to school and out-of-school activities. But program coordinator Iryna says this is not the case: “The E-kids program really engages the kids; they create their own algorithms and make programs that bring their ideas to life. They form the important skills and personal traits necessary in a digital age. This directs free creative potential in a constructive manner, forming a better person and thus a better society.”
The second round of E-kids in Ukraine is currently ongoing, and the program is likewise functioning in Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Poland, the US, and Hungary. One of the long-term objectives of the program is to take EPAM E-kids to our local communities and work with children who have no other access to such educational opportunities.