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Vodacom launches hybrid coding boot camp to empower more girls in STEM

As part of this year”s #CodeLikeaGirl programme, Vodacom is launching a hybrid coding boot camp from 2-6 October 2023 for young women aged between 14 and 18 years old. The on-site training will be hosted at 19 Schools of Excellence across the country, with virtual training accessible to all female learners who meet the criteria.

Female participation is lagging in STEM fields in most countries. A report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), titled “Cracking the code: Girls” and women”s education in STEM” indicated only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women. Young women also comprise only 25% of students in engineering or information and communication technology (ICT).

“With our 2023 hybrid instalment of this critical initiative, we are driving access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for more girls and addressing the severe gender gap in these fields. Through #CodeLikeaGirl, we are empowering young women with valuable coding and other life skills to equip them for jobs of the future and ensure diversity in STEM,” says Njabulo Mashigo, Human Resources Director of Vodacom South Africa.

Coding is the process of transforming ideas, solutions, and instructions into the language that the computer can understand, using programming languages like JavaSctipt, Java, C/C++, or Python, to act as the translator between humans and machines.

At the five-day boot camp, girls will be exposed to coding, robotics and other ICT development programmes, nurturing their confidence in digital learning and skills and opening the possibility to pursue STEM further. There is also a life skills component, with female mentors available to share their experiences of working in STEM and serve as visible role models.

The on-site #CodeLikeaGirl boot camps are being held at 19 Vodacom Schools of Excellence across South Africa and are aimed at girls at the schools and surrounding schools in the areas. The virtual training will run in parallel, with girls throughout the country eligible to participate, but they must have access to connectivity and a laptop.

Since the launch of Vodacom”s #CodeLikeaGirl in 2017, more than 4 000 girls aged 14-18 years have benefitted from the programme, which has expanded from South Africa to Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Lesotho.

“At Vodacom, we want to #ShowUpforHer by actively breaking barriers to gender inequality. The success of #CodeLikeaGirl is testament to the need to increase representation as we aim to build a digitally inclusive society,” concludes Mashigo.

CT Bureau

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