Coding skills initiative for young girls powers up

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 04 Oct 2022
Former Code Like A Girl participants at the launch of the 2022 edition.
Former Code Like A Girl participants at the launch of the 2022 edition.

Vodacom has welcomed software giant Microsoft SA as a new sponsor of its Code Like A Girl STEM empowerment project.


Since the publication of this story, Vodacom has informed ITWeb that Microsoft SA has pulled out of the initiative and is no longer a sponsor.

This, as the telephony group yesterday kicked-off the September instalment of its Code Like A Girl programme.

In a statement, Vodacom says Microsoft SA is sponsoring the initiative to the tune of $40 000 (R709 142), ensuring the programme reaches more school-going girls who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Njabulo Mashigo, HR director for Vodacom SA, says: “Women continue to be excluded from participating equally in STEM and ICT careers. Reasons for this include lack of career opportunities, gender bias and role models to aspire to.

“Industry-supported initiatives like Code Like A Girl therefore serve an important purpose in nurturing girls’ confidence in STEM, exposing them to women who are working in technology, and empowering them through education and coding skills.

“By partnering with Microsoft SA, we aim to further increase representation in the technology sector, as more girls will be able to benefit from the life-changing programme.”

Martin Ndlovu, skills programme manager, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office, adds: “Computer coders have become a key part of countless industries, offering abundant career opportunities.

“Microsoft is a company that is driven by a mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our mission is inherently inclusive – without diversity we cannot succeed. Code Like a Girl provides girls with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to enter and thrive in the world of coding.”

Initiated in 2017, Vodacom’s Code Like A Girl initiative is aimed at girls aged between 14 and 18 from SA, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition, the mobile operator looks to inspire more girls to explore careers that require coding skills to help them get a start in the STEM fields and industries.

For the current leg of the training programme, 250 girls from the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces will receive coding training during the course of this week.

During the week-long training course, learners will be exposed to knowledge of computer languages, robotics and development programmes, including basic computer and introduction to coding JavaScript and Python using the Microsoft MakeCode platform.

Furthermore, they will be taken on an empowering life skills journey, while developing coding, presentation and communication skills.

At the end of the week, each girl will know how to develop her own gaming app around critical global topics, such as global warming, and present her work to the rest of the coding class.

Since the programme was launched in SA, Vodacom has trained over 4 000 girls. It had its biggest intake in 2021, with over 1 000 pupils from eight provinces taking part.

“The continued success of the programme since its launch is testament to the tremendous need to close the gender gap in STEM, and equip young girls with the tools and technology to be leaders in the digital age. By connecting more girls through Code Like A Girl, we are helping to build a more digital, inclusive, sustainable future on this continent,” concludes Mashigo.