By Lilian Mutegi
Vulnerable girls and young women in Africa are being given a unique chance to learn vital technology skills in a safe space through an innovative pilot project, launched by the charity Theirworld.
The pilot project designed to empower girls with technology through creativity and learning will benefit between 600-700 females aged 5 to 24 in Kenya, Uganda and Senegal. Expanding to three more countries later this year.
Code Clubs are being launched by the charity Theirworld in partnership with the companies Kano, Codeacademy and Africa Gathering. They are low-cost, sustainable and scalable safe spaces where girls can build, learn and create through technology, creativity and coding.
Despite thousands of jobs being created in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries across Africa, gender discrimination, lack of access to education and technology means girls are kept out of the workforce and unable to break the cycle of poverty.
Sarah Brown, President of Theirworld said "With a safe space to learn and play, a mentor to inspire, and access to technology to be able to explore, create, and code we can increase learning opportunities and empower girls to fulfil their potential. Every girl should have the opportunity to go to school, learn, grow, and have a future they choose."
The Code Clubs, the first of which has been funded by Facebook, will run once a week after school for six months at a time. Girls will be taught a programme of online coding content by a trained teacher and mentor, and given access to numeracy, literacy, art and music to support their formal education.
Kano computer kits, which will be used in the clubs are low-cost, easily transportable, can be rebuilt multiple times and are highly applicable in countries where connectivity is low.
Marieme Jamme, Founder of Jjiguene Tech Hub Senegal and Africa Gathering said: "Africa is crying out for young women with STEM skills and knowledge. The mismatch between young Africans current skills and what companies need is getting wider. As a result, many young Africans, especially women, find themselves unemployed or, more frequently, underemployed in informal jobs with no economic development"
Barbara Birungi, Co Founder and Director of Women in Technology Uganda said: "Being able to go to school and learn in a safe environment is critical in both the short and long-term to ensure a generation of girls' potential is not squandered, or lost to child labor, child marriage, or other life-threatening activities"
The project aims to aid future mentors to set up and run their own tech hubs. Girls who have completed the course will be encouraged to return to mentor the next cohort of girls, enabling a self-sustaining model with community support, to augment the scalability of the project.
Theirworld also launched a new campaign #RewritingTheCode. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the prejudice girls face globally, making this the moment we change gender stereotypes and discriminatory values for a generation of young women.
Source: All Africa