#Mozfest 2016 Things

by Chante Jansen

It is almost every young girl/boy’s dream to travel the world some day and experience things you always wonder about and see on television. It has been a dream I long dreamt of and hoped it would happen someday. And then this year without worry, thought or planning, my dream came true.

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I am a Mozilla Club Captain in the Western Cape region, Cape Town, South Africa, and this year I have been afforded the opportunity together with my regional coordinator Mmaki Jantjies, to attend the Mozfest in London which was hosted from the 28th– 30th October. Mozfest is an annual event hosted by the Mozilla foundation where people such as technologists, educators, students and creators come together from across the world share ideas, success stories on things that have taken place in their different communities and to come up with innovative ways to supporting the web and issues surrounding the web.  The Mozfest plays a big role in allowing conversations on the openness of technology and the web in the public area.

Coming to the festival I honestly had no expectations because I did not know what to expect with regards to the way things would be, the environment, the people, the discussions or anything. I just came there with an open mind ready to learn and experience things. And wow was my imagination blown away, and I was glad that I did not set any expectation because it would have surpassed it all.

My journey at Mozfest started the Thursday morning at the Pre-Mozfest session which was for Women and Web Literacy, led by Amirah Dhalla. This was such an enriching session where about 20+ women came together to share their views and stories of how they envision and ensure to make the web an open and safe space for girls and women in their communities. The session was led by campaign ideas and ways that it could be set up in order to get an opinion raised, a policy taken down or a project set up. We broke up into different groups and discussed things that we see as needs in our different communities for girls/women and then coming up with possible solutions on how we could make the need into a possible way forward. The discussions that came up were so crucial to each and every one of us because we as women could put our views and opinions together to tackle the issues that came up. I found this session very enriching because it enabled me with the tools to start a programme in my own community to empower our young girls.

The Mozfest then kicked off with a science fair the Friday evening where those that attended could see presentations on creative and inspiring projects and ideas.

The sessions at Mozfest were then further led by different sessions which were all organised into spaces. These spaces were set up in thematic learning spaces and physical spaces around different domains such as arts and culture, localisation, youth zone, open science, journalism, demystify the web, etc. Furthermore, there were spaces where people would show cast work that they have done and made this an interactive space for the attendees to experience/ try-out their creations. The way in which the setting was created around Mozfest, allowed for people to roam around to the different spaces or either just completely ‘geeking-it-out’ in a single space.

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The Saturday I was so amazed by the different levels of creativity that was explored at the festival. I think the most prominent thing I took away from this festival was SIMPLICITY. Which might sound really weird for have been exposed to so much creativity, expression and craziness. But I could honestly see how with just a simple idea we can do so many things to get a message across or to teach someone something.

Some of the things that really caught my attention were:

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Hacking the Light

Tomide Adesanmi’s story began with him simply wanting to find a way to teach children how to code, and lights came to mind, as this is one thing that is attractive to children.  He created a program which allowed for you to created different shapes, words, numbers and patterns into a cube of connected LED lights. This was done by writing a code into a program with C++ language that had commands set up to enable the code to run successfully. This was a great way to inspire coding beginners into the world of programming by making it exciting and sparkling people’s imagination and keeping them engaged.

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Face Garden

This was showcased by  Marina Malone whereby she wanted to make people aware of the terms and conditions when making an online presence or signing up to just about anything. She brought this across in a creative way with a walled community garden analogy. We could then create a web system that reflected on how the web can tackle privacy, decentralisation, and inclusion. It made me realise that there are so many times we give consent to different platforms to use our information but never take the time to read what and how it would be used.

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Mozilla Clubs

The Mozilla Clubs session, this session was run by Julia Vallera, the global Mozilla Clubs Leader, where the different region coordinators, club captains and people interested in running clubs came together to discuss the curriculum around the Mozilla Clubs, what we could do to improve our clubs and the successes we achieved with our clubs. I also had an opportunity to share my experience with running a club in my community with those who wanted to start a similar club for teaching women and girls in their respective countries.

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Some of the Mozilla Club leaders from across the world

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The Mozilla festival wrapped up on Sunday evening with a demo party, where people’s work was showcased and together we could all celebrate what was built and the success of #Mozfest 2016.

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#Mozfest 2016 – A view from the South

By Mmaki Jantjies

The Mozilla foundation hosts an annual technology showcase festival named the Mozfest which members of the public from around the world are invited to participate in. After hearing much about the role of the Mozfest in positioning conversations on openness of technology and the Internet in the public domain, Chante (an honours student from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa) and I,  got an opportunity to attend this festival. My initial perception of Mozfest was that it was a candy store for technology geeks, showcasing the most innovative technology developments by developers from around the globe.

To my surprise the Mozfest was quite the opposite! Through the eyes of a geeky mom who loves science and teaching technology to young children, and also helps run technology clubs for young women and girls, let’s take a look at what Mozfest 2016, had to offer.

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A view through the Google cardboard virtual reality kit used in classroom learning

Thursday Women and Web Literacy meetup

We began the festival with a pre-mozfest event where some of the leading women in science, technology and web literacy from around the world were invited to participate. Led by  Amira Dhalla (global Mozilla women and web literacy clubs leader), the session was very productive with women from different walks of life conceding on issues affecting women and committing to using technology platforms such as social media and online applications, to start different initiatives and use these platforms such as social media campaigns and existing networks, to tackle these challenges. Women also agreed to support each other in these different initiatives around the world.

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I was also lucky to meet up with an African cohort of fellow technology evangelists and geeks from the awesome Geekulcha movement and  Girlhype,  and we had so much fun discussing on how we can enhance the culture of technology and innovation amongst young children in South Africa.

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From left to right: Baratang, founder of Girlhype, Chante Jansen, Leader of club Kika at UWC, Hildah regional leader of Mozilla clubs in Kenya, yours truely and Mixo founder of Geekulcha (picture source: Mixo)

Friday night science fair

The festival stared off with a science fair, showcasing the different research initiatives which empower communities around the world. What caught my eye was the neuroscience robot which is a tool used to teach children in schools about neurons and reflexology! This was a presentation by one of the science fellows of Mozilla, Teon, a young neuroscientist who was talking about his invention which helped children understand how neurons relate to muscle reflex. I then asked Teon, Danniella (a geeky mom researching on improving reproducibility and digital literacy in the sciences) and Matt who are the very cool open science and open web Mozilla fellows, if they could come to South Africa and present their cool career paths and work to youth as they captured the use of technology to teach about science and also impact the community on the open web so well, through their research initiatives. I was also amazed by an intriguing conversation with Matt , an open web fellow discussing the struggles of South African youth in terms of having education freely available and accessible to them and how the web can be used as a catalyst to achieve this.

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science fellows showcasing the neuroscience robot

I then met a young man from Manchester, Ben who was blind and was a software developer for BBC! I was blown away by his zeal to get blind children coding. All I could think about was the many disabled children in South Africa and around the world who probably don’t know that software development is a great space which they can be a part of only if there were resources to help them get into this space.

Saturday

On Saturday we prepared for a session to teach about the way in which we run technology clubs for girls in Africa with the session led by a fellow technology evangelists Hilda Nyakwakwa who leads Mozilla clubs for women and girls in East Africa and Maryann one of the club leaders from Kenya. The session was titled: Women, my safe space,  a women’s tale. The session showcased how we create a safe space while teaching technology to the young girls in our communities. Everyone walked away from the session feeling compelled to start a movement that would make the Internet an inclusive and safer space for any girl child!

Upon scouring the different stalls and sessions, I then landed at the youth zone! A whole floor dedicated to showcasing technologies that can be used to teaching young children about science and technology using different technology platforms. Hobot really captured me! Hobot was a robot which children could control using a remixed version of the scratch platform. The joy that children had in allowing the different robots to converse using their commands really captured the participants.

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hobot telling me how good his day was

After forcing myself back from the child zone, I attended the encryption session. The session taught people what the role of encryption was and how members of the public could use encryption to protect data transmitted online. After getting my ciphering and deciphering mood on, I decided to tone down on the technology geeky stuff and attended a session on how institutions were using open badges (an unconventional portfolio of evidence that moves beyond grading to include community work etc) to document and recognise the efforts of students in learning institutions and even employees in corporate institutions.

Sunday

On Sunday I sat in a clubs session led by Julia Vallera  (global Mozilla clubs leader) where we discussed how we can enhance the role of our technology clubs around the world. I then moved on to the curriculum design workshop where we gave feedback on our different experiences in the Mozfest. I also shared my UWC clubs experiences with people who wanted to start similar learning clubs for women and girls in their country.

By now you should have realized how biased my views are to technology, the reality is, the Mozfest was more than just about technology. It was about the use of platforms to teach art or the use of art to teach tech. It was about talks on how openness can be attained by educating people on the importance of openness and getting them to think how open is technology to enable citizen participation in the 21st century? I can go on and on!

Characterised by DJ’s music, the conjunction between art, justice and tech, talks, science and technology showcases and plenty of networking, the Mozfest was ecstatic! Walking away from the Mozfest my views of the festival had completely changed. I walked away with “hives of networks and knowledge of tech goodies” of how the average man on the street can create and be able to showcase a platform which could be used to support anyone around the world, true to the meaning of openness. Indeed the Mozfest was a candy store, however a candy store that allowed anyone to put technology and science back into the hands of everyday human beings, allowing them to address everyday issues through the technology platforms. My mission here was complete.

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global Mozilla tech club leaders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

Teaching the Web made Fun!

Teaching the Web at Club Inkwenkwezi

                                                      Created by Pozisa “Pozie” Manisi

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Source:Anonymous

Teaching the web at Dr. N.R Mandela high school (i.e. where Club Inkwenkwezi is originated) has been a great experience. Credit goes to the wonderful group of 15 grade 9 learners, who make up club Inkwenkwezi. Their willingness and eager to learn has made it a breeze to teach them the web.

Club Inkwenkwezi has been one of the fortunate groups to get a visit from Every1 Mobile ladies. The ladies visited the club to teach web literacy skills through My Mozilla Club website. The visit was on the 9th September 2016.

My Mozilla Club Website Experience

Teaching the web through My Mozilla club website was fun!

Young people always enjoy everything that involves enabling them to use modern devices for learning. It gives them an opportunity to learn in a manner that is more flexible and relaxed as compared to traditional face-to-face settings, where they are only seen as recipients of information.

The Every1 Mobile ladies when teaching the web, engaged with the learners. They gave the learners autonomy, in their learning process. This made it possible for the learners to come out of their comfort zone. It gave them freedom to learn freely and enabled them to assist their peers who were struggling.

Club Inkwenkwezi was afforded the opportunity to learn web literacy skills, ranging from searching, connecting on the web, web protection, and web contribution. Prior to commencing with the session for that day, the learners were expected to type the URL code, which was going to lend them on the My Mozilla club website. This was fascinating, because it taught them important things, such as ensuring that all letters and characters of a URL code were typed correctly, in order for one to lend to a correct page. For some learners, typing the URL code correctly was like ‘a walk in the park’. Those who managed to finish quickly, assisted their peers to type the URL code correctly.

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Learners typing the direct link of My Mozilla club website

The next step, required the learners to register on the website. During this activity there were some learners who struggled to register, due to not having valid email addresses. In such cases the learners were allowed to work in pairs, that is, using one device to do the expected activities. Learners were taught how to create an online profile through My Mozilla club website. This involved them learning how to upload a picture through the website.

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Source:http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/cyber-safety

Furthermore, the learners were also introduced to an activity, that enabled them to contribute on the web. They had to write their thoughts on certain topics, such as cyber-bullying. The activity enabled the learners to gain some insight on what cyber-bullying is and how it affects them as young people living in the digital age. It also aided them to gain information on how to remain safe when engaging in online platforms.

Overall, the learners and their club captain, “Pozie”, were excited by the visit. The visit helped the club to cover a handful of web literacy skills, which was a great benefit for club. In future, the club captain is hoping to use the My Mozilla club website, to further enhance, the skills of the young ladies in club Inkwenkwezi.

Kudos! and many thanks to the Every1 Mobile ladies, Sellina and Kuye, their visit was highly appreciated. Like the young ladies have said “we would like to have you again, at club Inkwenkwezi, whenever possible”. Importantly, many thanks to the regional captain, Dr. Mmaki Jantjies, without her, this network would have never been possible!

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From left: Pozie-club Inkwenkwezi captain, Dr. Mmaki Jantjies-Regional captain, Kuye- From Every1 Mobile  and Sellina-From Every1 Mobile

WOMENS MONTH

UWC’S  “WOMENS MATTERS” EVENT

by Tatenda Watungwa

INTRO

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South Africa celebrates the month of August as women’s month, which is a national tribute to commemorate the 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws that segregated the population according to race. In light of this, South Africa declared the 9th August as a public holiday to celebrate women’s month. With the aim of encouraging young women into the field of technology, the Information Systems department at University of the Western Cape (UWC) celebrated women’s month with young females from township high schools who included members of the UWC Mozilla Clubs for young women and girls within Cape Town, to encourage them to take an interest in STEM (Science, Technology and Mathematics) related career paths.

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The “Womens Matters” event, hosted at UWC by the IS department in partnership with the UWC Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation , was a weekend event which took all participants by surprise with the range of events planned for them. It consisted of a “Bring a girl child to ICT related work” day on Friday 19th August 2016, followed by a hackathon on the 20th and 21st of August 2016.

On the 19th, 120 high school girls who included girls from our Mozilla girls clubs were invited to participate in workshops and listen to presentations from industry representatives from various companies such as Metropolitan, The Foschini Group (TFG), Khanyisa Real Systems (KRS) and Sanlam. On Saturday and Sunday, a Hackathon was opened to the general public as part of Open Design Cape Town Festival, where 5 teams involving of men and women worked on designing and pitching tech solutions that addressed women’s issues. Here is a summary of how each day went:

FRIDAY: “Bring a girl child to ICT related work”

(school girls and Mozilla club members from the surrounding Cape Town schools)

The aim of this day was to educate and inspire girls aged between 13 and 16 years mostly in grade 9 to the life of a women with a technology qualification. 120 female students in grade 9, from high schools in Crossroads, Belhar, Khayelitsha and Mitchels Plein spent the day at the University of the Western Cape learning and programming finch robots, developing websites for their schools and listening to women working in industry telling them about their journeys in their careers. The girls who attended were in a position where they would soon be choosing the subjects they wish to continue with in their last few years of high school and possibly take further at university level.

(Robyn taking the girls through what her job entails)

The day started off with a motivational talk by Dr Jantjies, Head of the Information Systems Department, explaining the objective of the events and highlighting the need for women in science and technology careers in South Africa. This was followed by an exciting presentation from Robyn from Metropolitan presenting, “a day in the life of a  process engineer”  which was explained in great detail. What was covered was not expected from such a job title, the girls were left intrigued and with many questions as to what they need to do to land in such a position.

 

Following this the girls were involved in workshops where they dived into programming without having any technology experience. The first session was one where they learnt how to create their own website. For some of the girls this was their first experience using a PC but they were excited to learn as the workshop went on. By the end of the session the room was buzzing with conversations about what they had just achieved. These are the experiences that will make a difference in their future career choices.

The second workshop was where the girls learnt how to program a finch robot. This was by far the most popular workshop of the day. It was evident that the girls were not aware of the fun, interesting and stimulating side of ICT related careers.

(Rushen guiding the girls on programming Finch Robots)

To end off the day, the girls experienced an extremely inspiring presentation from Celeste from TFG. The presenter discussed her field of work and also explained what it took for her to get there, from both an educational point of view and a personal perspective. The whole room was deeply touched and motivated; she proved to the young girls that the struggles you experience will never determine your success in life. To close off the event, Prof Visser the Dean of Economic and Management Sciences congratulated the Department on their inaugural event and motivated the young girls to come back after 4 years back to take up STEM courses at UWC.

(Celeste talking about her life and career journey) 

SATURDAY & SUNDAY: The Hackathon

 

 

(Ms Fazlyn Peterson opening up the Hackathon)

On Saturday and Sunday Ms Fazlyn Peterson kicked off the Hackathon through a range of activities, which was opened to the general public as part of Cape Town’s Open Design festival. There were 5 teams consisting of men and women working on designing and pitching tech solutions that addressed women’s issues. THE Sisterhood, a group of four UWC female students won the Women Matters Hackathon for a safety app they designed. The winning team were four Bcom Information Systems students; Yandisa Citwa‪, Janine Anthony, Noluthando Ntshaba and Sibabalwe Kweza.

(Dr Jantjies presenting the Accenture sponsored prizes)

The winning idea was an app based on a number of safety and security issues students have at universities. Some of the features include:

  • SOS button that will be linked to campus security
  • a device that alerts campus security to an emergency whenever female students tap on the SOS button
  • “Help A Sista Out” icon that leads to a donations corner (If any lady needs an essential item like sanitary pads or food)
  • A page called ‘Sistahood Rocks ICT Network’, where the latest trends, articles, tech devices will be uploaded to keep each other updated about the industry and opportunities that arise

These two days were an opportunity for all the participants to showcase their ideas however, they were unaware their ideas wouldn’t go unnoticed.

We were blown away by the talent and ingenuity of not just the Sisterhood but the other designers as well. There were no losers as the other participants will be aided in developing their solutions by industry insiders,” Dr. Mmaki Jantjies (Head of IS Department, UWC)

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  (Teams who were part of the hackathon)

CONCLUSION

  (UWC IS graduate volunteers and Mozilla Club captains)

It is vital that such events are held, to bring about awareness to young females and to educate and inspire young people into STEM related fields. The result of the event denotes an achievement, as it was not only the high school girls but also older students and members of the public getting them to have a conversation about careers in tech and issues that affect women.

The student volunteers from the IS department and the teachers from the high schools who accompanied the girls, also agreed on the success of the event. The “Womens Matters” event lead to everyone involved leaving the event feeling empowered and inspired not only by what they had witnessed from the participants, but also from gaining knowledge themselves. The whole weekend went far past any of the assumed expectations that formed when planning for the event and the department aims to continue to engage and inspire young women and the public about careers in STEM and finding ways of addressing social challenges using technology.

A special thank you to our sponsors: Metropolitan (Kathy, Shabnam, Robyn and Tamlyn) KRS (Pateka and Mihlali), TFG (Celeste), Sanlam (Delina), Accenture, Axiom, Spur, Corporate Renaissance Group, Santam and UWC staff from IS department and volunteers and Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Club Inkwenkwezi Journey

Blog post by Pozisa “Pozie” Manisi

It is always an honor to give back to a community that has contributed towards your development as a person. That is how it feels to work at Dr N.R Mandela high school, as Mozilla club Inkwenkwezi mentor, Pozisa “Pozie” Manisi.

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It is exciting to work in an environment where people are receptive and are willing to cooperate and make the project work. That is how the journey has begun with the school (Dr N.R Mandela High School). The principal, teachers and the kids have thus far made the project to be an amazing one! And I am thankful for that.

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From Left. Thandaza & Pozie

It has only been two sessions, and I have observed growth in some of the learners who are part of the club. In the second session I was blessed to have one of the club mentors, Thandaza Nxele to assist me in our session. It was awesome to work with her, I actually realized she made the work a bit lighter, especially when it comes to the process of helping the kids to open email accounts.

Their excitement and zeal is still burning, and the goal is to ensure that the fire remains burning. I have great plans for the club, and my main aim is to ensure that after the sessions are completed for the year 2016, they should at least have digital skills that they can apply in their daily lives. My plan is to also ensure that after year 2016, the 15 girls should have been developed enough to be Mozilla Club Inkwenkwezi ambassadors from Dr N.R Mandela High School.

This is indeed just the beginning of great things that are yet to come. Mozilla club Inkwenkwezi is here to stay, and will become bigger and better while changing lives of many young women from township.

One can view reports about Mozilla club Inkwenkwezi at Mozilla Clubs Reports

Celebrating women’s month with the UWC I.S. Department

Each year in the month of August, South Africa celebrates women across different sectors and this year is no different!

The University of the Western Cape Information Systems department in the EMS faculty, will be celebrating women’s month through a range of events.

On the 19th of August 2016, 100 young girls from high schools in surrounding townships in Cape Town including our Mozilla club members, will spend the day at UWC learning about finch robots, coding and getting to meet women working in the tech space.

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(Image source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

On the 20th and 21st of August the department will host a “hacklet” where young women will learn how to code and over the two days come up with tech solutions for women related challenges.

For further information you can contact Fazlyn Petersen at Fazlyn.Petersen@gmail.com or mjantjies@uwc.ac.za or call (+27 21) 959 3249 on details of the event.