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.
Designed to empower girls with technology through creativity and learning, Code Clubs will benefit between 600 and 700 females aged five to 24 in Kenya, Uganda and Senegal. The project will expand to three more countries later this year.
Theirworld - the charity behind A World at School - is launching Code Clubs in partnership with Kano, Codeacademy and Africa Gathering. The first Code Club was launched at Kibera School for Girls, which is run by SHOFCO (Shining Hope For Communities).
These girls from Kibera School for Girls in Kenya are excited to be at the Code Club Pictures: Theirworld/Adriane Ohanesian
Code Clubs are low-cost, sustainable and scaleable safe spaces where girls can build, learn and create through technology, creativity and coding.
Thousands of jobs are being created in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries across Africa.
But 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.
A student at the Kibera school opens a Kano computer kit
Theirworld President Sarah Brown 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."
Theirworld has also launched a campaign called #RewritingTheCode, ahead of International Women's day on March 8, to raise awareness about the prejudice girls face globally.
The kit has instructions on how to assemble the computer
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.
They will also all be given a healthy snack during the class to keep up energy levels and improve concentration.
Kibera students show what they think girls are capable of achieving
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, Co-Founder of 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.”
They're happy to be getting a great education at the primary school
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 labour, 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 group of girls, enabling a self-sustaining model with community support.