Whizz-kid, 11, set on crack­ing wa­ter short­age code

Kabir takes 1st prize in ed­u­ca­tion awards


AT AGE 11 Kabir Budlen­der talks com­puter cod­ing a mile a minute.

He is ad­vanced and in­formed beyond his age and has as­pi­ra­tions of im­prov­ing the lives of com­mu­ni­ties around him by us­ing his pro­gram­ming skills.

The Grade 5 pupil at The Ridge School in West­cliff, Jo­han­nes­burg, re­cently came first in the Ex­cel­lence in Ed­u­ca­tion Awards in­au­gu­ral cod­ing chal­lenge cat­e­gory in Mel­rose Arch.

The na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, open to pub­lic and pri­vate schools in var­i­ous age groups and cat­e­gories, cel­e­brated cre­ativ­ity in the in­te­gra­tion of Ap­ple tech­nol­ogy into teach­ing and learn­ing.

The par­tic­i­pants in this cat­e­gory had to code a web­site con­cept.

Due to the se­vere drought in Cape Town, Kabir de­vel­oped the Wa­ter Cal­cu­la­tor, a web­site to man­age wa­ter use in drought cri­sis that is also in­ter­ac­tive. At this stage, it is still a demo ver­sion.

Blue­tooth tech­nol­ogy

The sec­ond phase would en­tail get­ting the work­ing ta­ble up and run­ning and in­cor­po­rat­ing Blue­tooth tech­nol­ogy that would con­nect to a tap.

This would al­low for data to be up­loaded di­rectly to a cell­phone.

From there, Kabir, who be­gan learn­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in Grade 2 and at­tended a hol­i­day school to learn block­based cod­ing, in­tends on cod­ing an app from the web­site.

He hopes it will go live next year. “Sec­tion 27 of the bill of rights states that all peo­ple have a right to health­care, food, wa­ter and so­cial se­cu­rity. All of these things are im­por­tant, but the one that I chose to focus on was wa­ter.

“I would like to live in a world where it is a re­al­ity that ev­ery­one has wa­ter. How­ever, this is not the case be­cause the coun­try is in a drought, which means there is not enough wa­ter for ev­ery­body.

“There­fore, we all have to be con­scious about how much wa­ter we use. We need a way where all peo­ple can keep track of how much wa­ter they use in an easy and ef­fi­cient way,” said Kabir.

Asked about the ben­e­fits of the web­site, he said: “In­sert what you used the wa­ter for, for ex­am­ple, wash­ing the dishes. Then type in how much wa­ter you used. If you want, you can also type in the time. The Wa­ter Cal­cu­la­tor can then give you a to­tal of how many litres you use as you use it. You can ei­ther take a screen­shot and make a folder or photo al­bum or you can print it.”

He said this would al­low house­holds to be­come con­scious of their use and re­duce their con­sump­tion if need be.

Kabir, who plays the vi­o­lin and pi­ano and is part of his school’s orches­tra, be­lieves ev­ery­one has a right to wa­ter “so use it wisely”.

For his ef­forts, he won head­phones and his teacher, Daniel McLach­lan, an iPad.

Kabir, who en­joys flight sim­u­la­tion and avi­a­tion tech­nol­ogy, has ideas on what he wants to study af­ter he ma­tric­u­lates, pos­si­bly be­com­ing a pi­lot.

His mother, Nas­reen Ra­jab-Budlen­der, an ad­vo­cate, said she was amazed by Kabir’s pro­gram­ming knowl­edge.

But af­ter she re­flected, she said there had been signs that his love for com­put­ers and tech­nol­ogy be­gan at an early age.

“When he was a tod­dler he once fell asleep hold­ing onto a USB ca­ble and would at­tempt to climb onto our brief­cases to reach the com­puter.”

She said her son booked all their do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights, show­ing a ma­tu­rity beyond his years.

His fa­ther, Steven Budlen­der, is also an ad­vo­cate and Kabir has a younger brother, Imran, 8.


Com­puter cod­ing whiz Kabir Budlen­der

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