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Yes, Girls Can Code Software in Zambia!

By Guest Writer on August 10, 2017

Girls are particularly marginalized and underprivileged in Zambia. They are faced with lack of opportunity due to common preconceived notions that either they are incapable, or, it is not their place to do anything different. However, there are millions of girls across Zambia who are bright, intelligent, and hungry to learn.

Girls Can Code Technology Camp

Girls Can Code! Technology Camp was born in deep rural Luapula Province, Zambia, with a handful of girls who were hungry to learn. This project ultimately seeks to bring equity to girls by empowering them with knowledge, self-confidence, and a network of like-minded peers across the land.

First, we assemble community teams, which include a trusted female community mentor through a competitive application process. Then the technology camp begins at a very basic level and we progress together through active learning.

We introduce computer programming by an interactive game where we act out commands with people on a stage. The result is that the teams become familiar with basic concepts even without placing a hand on a computer.

We don’t stop there. They learn the basics of computer architecture and electronics. They play computer games made by their own efforts. They use a variety of hardware including desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and the Raspberry Pi.

In an intensive week, every girl who comes not only learns basics of using a computer, but, they exercise their minds in ways that inspires new, creative ways of thinking about life. As they play games, they learn leadership and teamwork.

Immediate Impacts

Not everyone who attends the camp will become a programmer, per se, but, I guarantee that every girl and every mentor that attends has fun, exercises their brain in a way they have never done before, and learns something new.

Just check out this video gathered from GoPros that the pupils used to capture camp from their unique perspective and from participating Peace Corps Volunteers.

The experience, for everyone at the camp, has a profound effect on well being, sense of place, self importance, self confidence; and, it is empowering. The energy of the camp is high. The confidence and enthusiasm of every participant grows daily.

Long Term Change

Future success as individuals and as a culture of people who believe this kind of development is possible lies in a series of camps, where the participants incrementally master skills and techniques for programming games, software, robotics, and even physical programming.

Building up these girls, leading them to the confidence that comes with handling things previously unknown is the future of movement toward Zambia’s hidden treasure, and more. At the heart of the technology camp is learning new skills; such as, turning problems into solutions, using constraints to inspire creativity, using imagination to find the abundance that every one of us, indeed every human being, desires.

As these young girls show interest and build their knowledge, opportunity will be provided to attend advanced camps, leading to what I call a “pipeline of Zambia’s hidden talent” and what amounts to more intensive vocational training in order to build marketable skill sets.

We have proven that girls can code.

By Daniel Bevington, Peace Corps / Hackers Guild

Filed Under: Featured, Women in Tech
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