Girls + Code = Future
A handful of coding clubs in Temeke district of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania are providing young girls a whole new window of opportunity and interest that they did not have a chance to explore before. Coding develops computational thinking. It transforms the way problems are solved and decisions are made while working in a team.
Aisha wants to be a fashion designer. Dressed in a bright orange, breezy dress with her hair neatly tied back, she shows off the three badges pinned to her dress with pride. ‘Girls + Code = Future’, reads the small, green badge.
The teacher begins the session with an ice-breaker, asking the girls why they joined the code club. Aisha explains that she wants to learn how to send e-mails and messages online. You can see the excitement in her eyes as she waits for the lesson to begin.
Today is the first day that Aisha will not only get to use a computer, but also learn how to build one. Typically, she spends her days at home helping with the housework, so coming to the club is something she now looks forward to.
The girls are handed out orange boxes that hold the Kano kits. Aisha carefully peels the wrapping, pausing to take in the various gadgets and small parts before beginning to assemble the Kano computer by following the picture-book instructions.
The Kano computer kits used in the clubs are low-cost, easily transportable, can be rebuilt multiple times and are great in countries where internet connectivity is low.
BRAC in partnership with Theirworld, a global children’s charity has launched the coding clubs project. Vulnerable girls and young women in Tanzania will have the opportunity to learn vital coding and technology skills in a safe space through this innovative pilot project. The clubs are located in the Temeke district of Dar es Salaam where many girls have dropped out of school and the risk of teenage pregnancy run high.
Girls and young women aged 11–25 years learn how to build a computer, make games and artwork and express themselves through code. Integrated into the curriculum are also concepts of health and nutrition where girls reflect on their daily routines and the importance of hygiene, exercise and nutrition using online tools. The older girls also learn how to create their own websites using HTML, CSS and Java.
These clubs run once a week. Girls are taught a bespoke programme of online coding content by a trained teacher, and given access to numeracy, literacy, art and music to support their formal education.
Amina Shaaban, deputy manager of education programme at BRAC Tanzania says, “The opportunities that coding will create for girls in these communities are immeasurable. Most, if not all, have never seen a computer before. An understanding of computer science is becoming increasingly essential in today’s world.”
At BRAC, we believe every girl should have the opportunity to learn, grow, and have a future that they choose.Girls can reach their true potential with a safe space to learn and play, a mentor to inspire, and technology to explore and create.