Code to learn: Case of Tanzania- Shecodesforchange

Shecodesforchange started in 2014 and it was an idea born with a focus to inspire girls to take on Science, Technology,Engineering and Mathematics career. I am an engineer and my partners were in experts law and medicine. I was one of two girls sitting in a science class in high schools and again one of two at the university pursuing computer engineering. Despite being out numbered that didn’t not stop us coming out of the top 5% of the class. This shaped my view that girls too can take on STEAM and excel. All that is left to do is to give girls this information through training, mentorship and career guidance.

Happening in Dar right now. Capacity building at its finest. #GirlsinICT #BintinaTehama #shecodesforchange #Darzonaltraining

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Photo: 2017 Zonal training at Dar es salaam-Tanzania

Our first support came from the United states department as part of the US Alumni engagement fund which my partners and I qualified for by being Mandela Washington Fellows 2014, from President Obama Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). We used the funds to train 45 secondary school girls, most of whom had never seen a computer before. We trained in three streams development web, games and makertronics. This landed She codes for change a partnership in implementing Girls in ICT 2016/17 program with the Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF) – in the Ministry of works, transport and communication in Tanzania. The Girls in ICT programs have been run in two consecutive years, training close to 480 secondary school girls countrywide. Three tiered approach is used, first zone wise six in total each hosting about 40 girls coming from schools within the zone. Then National training that takes on 30 students , a team of 5 from each zone that had a winning project. And the summit is held at the International Telecommunication Unit (ITU) regional headquarters in Addis Ababa. The trainings are mostily focussed on inspiring first timer computer users and we mostly use MIT mobile app inventor in teaching. In Tanzania the mobile phone penetration is about 80%, which makes a mobile application the most understood product.

SCC makes use of scratch in its holiday camps that are up to four weeks long. In the camps girls spend time learning and work on challenges to build prototype solutions using the knowledge gained in the trainings. Our next camp is planned for fourth quoter this year and we plan to make use of some of the boards secured in the Nairobi scratch conference, the makey makey and SparkFun.

One of the huge takeaway from the Nairobi scratch conference is the network of like minded people that are doing various things from design to programing and internet of things to a variety of students from little kids to teenagers and above. I personally did rediscover scratch and understood from talking to father of scratch Mitchel Resnick (via web) that its not a mere programing but rather learning experience and way of expressing oneself.

Written by   @rhysrose

Impressive start

Between first coffee break and lunch we had planned for a show-n-tell form of introduction and setting up a program for the remainder of this two-day conference.

The introductory talks, however, are packed with great initiatives, opening great discussion. Amazing how fast this group gets familiar and to the point. They know each other for some hours, represent very different cultures but share values on learning, tinkering, developing and much more.

So while we don’t know how we’re going to do the workshops on ScratchX, Internet of Things, Makey Makey etc. we have great times at USIU (thank you!).