Fundación Esperanza Pertusa is a charitable organization set up by the family-run, internationally-known footwear company Gioseppo. Their goal is to “put themselves in the shoes of other people who have had less access to opportunities and to contribute to a more just world” by promoting social responsibility programs that improve quality of life for vulnerable people. EPF’s main program, Women4Change, gives special priority to supporting gender equality and highlight the value of women as drivers of change in society.
EPF is supporting Girls4Tech through sales of beautifully handcrafted pieces from the Women4Change by Gioseppo Eco-Solidarity Collection including a selection of brightly-colored bracelets and an elephant and giraffe sculpted figurine. These items were made right in Kenya by Ocean Sole from recycled materials. More than 50,000 kg of flip-flops wash up onto the shores of the Kenyan coast every year. Ocean Sole employs local workers to collect it, clean it, compress it and then carve it, giving the material a new life as a unique art piece. Through the process, oceans are cleaned, jobs are provided, and masterpieces are made.
“At Youth for Technology Foundation, we are excited about working with organizations like the Fundación Esperanza Pertusa that share our goals for turning today’s girls into tomorrow’s leaders,” says YTF CEO Njideka Harry.
Kimathi Primary School
Kimathi Primary School is an excellent location to introduce to the Girls4Tech curriculum. It is less than 10 kilometers from the Nairobi Central Business District with approximately 80% of the students coming from slum areas such as Kiambiu and Kariobangi which are within walking distance of the school.
Programs like Girls4Tech are key to equipping girls with the skills they will need to participate in the workforce of the future. “In this digital age, we cannot afford to deny girls a platform to shape their world through technology,” says Mary Munyoki, Program Manager for YTF in Kenya.
Studies show that 80% of future jobs will require STEM skills, yet only 10% of girls opt to pursue careers in these fields. This gender gap is driven partly by negative stereotypes and partly by a shortage of female STEM professionals to act as role models to inspire girls with an early aptitude in these fields.
The 4-month program aims to help bridge the skills gap by increasing the digital literacy of primary school aged girls and encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM fields. The hands-on, inquiry-based training is designed to teach 10- to 13-year-old girls digital literacy skills while boosting problem solving abilities and curiosity.
The Girls4Tech Curriculum
The Girls4Tech curriculum covers topics like cryptology, digital convergence, programming, and algorithms at “career stations” where participants get a chance to experience the technologies that underlie the foundations of modern-day commerce, interact with mentors who work in STEM fields, and experience using Mastercard digital systems.
At the algorithm career station, groups of students are tasked with developing their own algorithm for counting colored cards. The challenge is to develop an algorithm that can count the cards more quickly and accurately than a person. After a period of brainstorming, the students collaborate to develop their own algorithm.
At the cryptology station, students are challenged to learn about data encryption through an activity based on the Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary. Participants learn the underlying logic of data encryption while decoding Navajo words to form meaningful sentences. They are encouraged to use the rules of encryption to develop security solutions.
The digital convergence station teaches students the evolution of modern technologies – like cameras, currency notes, storage discs, music players, and recording devices – and how these technologies have converged and been incorporated into portable, multi-purpose devices like smartphones.
Programming skills are taught using the Scratch programming language. Scratch is a visual block-based programming language developed by MIT Media Lab that allows user of all skill levels to create their own interactive stories, games, and animations on an easy-to-use, block-like interface.
“The girls’ brilliance was evident,” says YTF Master Trainer Stacy Irara. “Attentive ears and bright smiles characterized the lesson.”
We’re sure smiles like these will continue during the entire course of the 4-month training!