“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” - Margaret Fuller
When WeTech’s Seed Fund for Women + Girls in Computer Science in Africa launched in 2013 the goal was to work with local individuals and organizations across the continent to increase trainings and opportunities for females in the tech space. To date, our 33 grantees have impacted over 4,800 women and girls. However, the greatest achievement in these numbers may very well be the amount of women that will share what they have learned with others. We’ll be sharing some of the most inspiring stories from the Seed Fund network in the series Growing: Seed Fund Stories to Inspire.
The first installment comes from first-round grantee Sci-Enza at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Sci-Enza’s project “ICT: Girls dare to go there!” worked with schools in disadvantaged areas of Pretoria to identify girls that demonstrated interest in IT but were without access to computers in their homes or schools. 31 girls were selected through an application process to build on their existing interest through workshops on coding, app creation, research and programming. The program was instructed by faculty and female IT graduates from the University of Pretoria. One of the graduates, Ofentse Lekwane, was so inspired by the experience as a tutor that she plans to duplicate the curriculum and set up a workshop in a neighboring township to expand the impact for disadvantaged children. We spoke to Ofentse to learn more about what motivated her to take her knowledge-sharing to the next level.
WeTech: Can you tell us what motivated you to start your own program?
Ofentse Lekwane: I would like to empower young kids in township neighborhoods to embrace computer technology and what it can offer--in terms of learning, opportunities to innovate, and problem-solving abilities--so that they can be empowered and better equipped to resolve the issues within their immediate surroundings.
WT: If you were to describe life in a township to someone who is not familiar with the concept, what would you say?
OL: Townships are spaces typically characterized by a daily attempt at survival where oftentimes the most basic human needs are a struggle to meet.
WT: Which township will you be working in?
OL: My intent is to work in the community of Ga-Rankuwa, in the Gauteng Province in South Africa.
WT: What will you teach your program participants?
OL: I would like to teach them how, through coding, to use technology to improve their lives.
WT: We heard that you will be incorporating Google tools into your curriculum. What was your motivation for choosing Google?
OL: Google uses simplicity as a fundamental basis in their design, and this makes it unintimidating and easy to learn.
WT: Who is your target population and how many do you hope to reach?
OL: I’m targeting [girls] ages 6-15 separated into two different classes with differing curricula. I’m hoping to reach as many students as possible, but initially starting with 2 classes of 15-20 students each.
WT: If you could only choose one overall goal of your work what would it be?
OL: To empower township children from a young age in order to bridge the gap in knowledge between them and their peers in sub-urban and well-resourced regions.
Ofentse is just one of countless individuals involved in the Seed Fund network who are working diligently to provide opportunities for women in tech across Africa. Keep on the lookout for the next installment of Growing.