Africa Code Week – Teaching girls how to program

 

By Sethu Matanga

Africa code week was held from the 15th October – 23rd October in Cape Town. In celebrating Africa code week and getting young children in the community to learn how to code, the University of the Western Cape Department of Information systems staff and students participated in the week by teaching software coding skills to the community. The 21st October 2016 was the day in which we focused on teaching young girls from the University of Western Cape Mozilla technology clubs for girls in schools (Club Kika and Club Inkwenkwezi) and brought them into one room to teach them about programming using Scratch. The club members are girls aged between 12-16 years attending high schools in Khayelitsha and Cross Roads where the clubs are based.

Firstly, introductions were made and the structure of the program was explained to the group of girls that were present.

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Rogeema from the Hope Network explaining what Africa code week is

It was a very insightful day because the girls developed their own understanding of scratch when a professor at the University of the Western Cape used one of the girls as an example to explain how programming works. Initially, the girl was asked to give a few dance moves. Once she was done, the professor asked the group of girls that were watching to give step by step instructions on the dance moves she demonstrated to get the whole dance. The two clubs tried to give instructions to get the end product (full dance moves that the girl was demonstrating) but they saw that the end result was not what they had anticipated. The girls realized that in order to have a program perform the way it needs to perform, the right instructions need to be given. The fun part of the activity though was that the girls were programming the individual that was chosen by the professor to dance. This was the most basic way of teaching the young girls what programming is about.

Once the basic teaching on programming was done, the real programming started. This was were the girls were asked by the instructor to open the scratch program on their browsers and shown how the program worked. The instructor gave the girls step by step instructions on how to use scratch and how the different functionalities in the program worked. Some of the girls were struggling a bit with some instructions, but there were professionals and tutors that were available to helps the girls and in time they got the hang of it. The girls seemed like they were having fun and when they were told that they could do anything they wanted on their programs without any instructions given to them, they freely worked on their programs and seemed to enjoy working on their programs and at the end of it all, they learnt a basic scratch programming skills.

The girls working on their scratch programs

At the closing, the girls were given certificates to show that they had some training on scratch.

certificates

It was great to see that the girls were happy to have something to go home with, a certificate to show their peers and families that they can code. The training was a huge success and had a positive impact on improving the girls’ skills . It is amazing to see and be part of such initiatives that empower young people. After all was said and done, everyone went outside to take once last picture before people parted ways.

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Members of the Department of Information Systems staff and students, staff from the Barn in Khayelitsha, Rogeema from Hope Network and the Mozilla club for girls members

 

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