Artificial intelligence bootcamp heads to Mitchells Plain

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A mentor is pictured with the girls who participated at last year's AI in Soweto bootcamp. (Photo source: Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation)
A mentor is pictured with the girls who participated at last year's AI in Soweto bootcamp. (Photo source: Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation)

Following last year's artificial intelligence (AI) bootcamp in Soweto, the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation plans to host the 'AI in Mitchells Plain bootcamp' this weekend.

The bootcamp, which runs from 15 to 17 March, is part of a nationwide 'AI in townships' initiative that encourages young girls to think about how they can tackle social challenges using technology.

The girls-only bootcamps target girls aged 15 to 18 years old from historically disadvantaged communities, to motivate them to create purposeful, high impact solutions that tackle challenges ranging from community safety to unemployment and education.

The Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation is hosting the Mitchells Plain bootcamp in partnership with Fliptin Technologies, Microsoft and Idea Collective. Absa's innovation lab and Old Mutual will provide the venues for the workshops.

Gugu Motlanthe, trustee of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, says: "The Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation places the wellbeing of our nation's youth at the heart of our work with the belief that equipping learners with 21st century skills will help prepare South Africa for the fourth industrial revolution and lay the fundamental building blocks to creating an inclusive society."

She adds: "The foundation is invested in and committed to creating an environment that boosts access to technology and drives digital literacy. These are the keys to unlocking the potential for our youth to create a positive, connected and inclusive future in the digital age."

According to the foundation, 60 girls from Beacon Hill High School, Lentegeur Secondary School, Portland High School, Oval North Secondary School and Westridge High School have been selected to learn the concepts and ethics of digital technology and how to apply technology to their daily lives to create solutions for their communities.

During the three-day exercise, the learners will be taught how to build computer chatbots, package their individual tech ideas and solutions, and pitch their innovations to a panel of judges.

Furthermore, they will be mentored by tech professionals and entrepreneurs, and have the chance to showcase their smarts, creativity and competitiveness.

Lillian Barnard, MD of Microsoft SA, comments: "We are proud to be involved with such an initiative that aims to harness the STEM skills young girls need to become problem-solvers and build successful careers in these fields.

"The AI revolution has begun in Africa, and it's going to empower and enable us to do more than ever before. Approximately 80% of jobs created in the next 10 years will require a blend of science, technology, engineering and maths, but right now only about 30% of the science and technology workforce in Africa is comprised of women, indicating a massive gap that urgently needs to be addressed."

Mustapha Zaouini, CEO of Fliptin, adds: "Connecting the participants with leading thinkers, who position ethical and sustainable learning in the centre of the education process, unlocks the power of technology. Through these bootcamps, we aim to cause a major mind-set change in the girls, which is fused with the tools to implement new ideas leveraging the technology of tomorrow; a potent combination that capacitates a lifelong way of thinking for success."

Old Mutual CIO Johnson Idesoh is confident the AI in Mitchells Plain project will spark real interest in IT as a career option among the young learners attending. "Raising the number of female IT professionals in the country is a vital step towards creating greater gender equality, and promoting a strong and diverse digital foundation." he concludes.

Sixty-four girls from four schools in Soweto participated in last year's artificial intelligence bootcamp.

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