Zach Kafuko speaks of his experience of teaching the session on the “hardware hackathon at the Eco-Sol Miss.Africa Digital sponsored training. Ecosol runs the ‘Full STEM Ahead!’ project for girls in Seychelles. Below is the conversation
Highlight your general experience with the program?
The program was well organised and perhaps long overdue. This could be seen from the enthusiastic participation of the girls through out the training. I also realised that the set up where girls were being trained alone, offered them a safe space for them to think and participate freely without the pressure that comes with competing against their male counterparts. I would describe the training as exciting but very impactful. The skill set and knowledge gap that existed prior to the training was significantly narrowed post training program.
What moment(s) were most challenging through the training
The session on the “hardware hackathon” was the most challenging as most of the participants at first seemed uneasy about the idea of handling screwdrivers and opening up the desktop system unit. However this also eventually turned out to be one of the most exciting for the participants as they got to break apart the components of the system unit and later successfully reassembled everything to make the computer power on and boot up. It was the first time that these participants were seeing a hard drive, the RAM, CD/DVD ROM drive, the CPU, power supply, the Motherboard, etc and this made the experience very exciting for them.
How did the Fund enhance Eco Sol’s initiatives and activities of supporting girls in STEM?
As an “all girls” training program, the fund helped Eco Sol’s objective of supporting girls in STEM. The program equiped the participants with knowdledge and skills which predominantly are considered as the boy child’s birth right and vocational inheritance. A narrative which needs to change and one that Eco Sol is working to address in Seychelles. Such a program along with the funding does more than just impart some knowledge and skills to the girls who are desirous of a future in STEM. It sends a loud and clear message saying, ‘we do actually believe that girls can make it in STEM’, and hence the funding. Additionally, it not only re-enforces that confidence and morale in the participants but also acts as an inspiration to many more girls contemplating on taking up the mantle. In one word, the fund was “Empowerment”.
Give us a successful instance at the training when the Women in STEM flag was flown high.
The session on website design was particularly impressing. I observed that the participants for this training program assimilated the website design and publishing skills much quicker than is considered average for the boys. Then we had a video conference call with one of our collaborators for the training from the United States. She is a Director at Altima Business Solutions and is also serving as the Director of the board at “Girls in Tech Phoenix”. The participants were so thrilled to see a lady taking up roles that would otherwise be expected to be held by men. This instance I believe reafirmed their impetus to aspire to break the norm of macho domination, irrespective of the field.
Outline your take on the future of women technology in Africa/Globally? And a message to other girls who would want to venture into ICT Careers.
Women participation in technology in Africa is one of the reasons why such training programs as this are extremely necessary. Female participation in the ICT sector here in Seychelles, in Africa and globally, needs to improve. Deliberate policies and programs need to be created in order to mitigate this disparity. As this is the need, training is the only way women and girls will become equal partners with their male counterparts, not only as end users of technology but most importantly as influencers and contributors in ICT.
The ICT sector is vast and littered with so many opportunities, girls and women can not afford to sit back and watch, we are all creators. It is high time we have a balanced perspective of the ICT sector by first balancing the creators and influencers of ICT.
Miss.Africa Digital Voices is a regular online journal that presents women in tech experiences, opinions and observations. These stories come from DotConnectAfrica Internship Alumni and other Women who are leading the tech-preneurship fronts in their own ecosystems. The Miss.Africa Voices also serves to encourage more girls & women to get involved in STEM careers through our Miss.Africa Digital Program.