International Girls in ICT Day is a day instituted by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU). On 8th April 2011, ITU announced the establishment of an international “Girls in ICT Day”, which will be held every year on the fourth Thursday in April. Girls around the world gathered on 28th April 2011 to celebrate the first annual International Girls in ICT Day. The day celebrates girls’ interests and strengths and encourages them to choose a career in information and communication technologies to bridge the gender gap in the ICT sector.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Access and Safety”. For girls and young women to thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers, they need safe and reliable access to the internet and digital tools. “Girls in ICT Day” is celebrated in over 150 countries around the world.
ITU estimates a skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector within the next five years. “Girls and young women who learn coding, apps development, and computer science will not only be well-placed for a successful career in the ICT sector, but ICT skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in just about any other field they might choose to pursue” the statement noted.
This year IIPGH celebrated this event with girls from the Muslim communities in Achievers Ghana Foundation. The female volunteers came to the venue with laptop computers, and 3D printers and used the occasion to introduce the girls to coding and 3D design.
This year’s celebration is on the theme: ‘Access & Safety’ which aims at promoting the need for safe and reliable access to the internet and digital tools for girls and young women. Coding is the language of technology. Just like how most of us learned English, French, and others when we were kids for effective communication with people, coding is a universal language that enables instructions to be translated to computerized machines to act according to the intended commands. In other words, Coding or Computer Programming makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps, and websites. Our browser, Operating System, the apps on our phones, Facebook, and WhatsApp, among others, were developed through Coding.
To prepare the next generation for the 21st-century technological world, the Administrative Director of the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) Madam Gifty Mottey led a team of female volunteers from the Institute to mark this year’s International Girls in ICT Day with a coding workshop for girls at Achievers Ghana Foundation in Maamobi-Nima. The girls between the ages of 6 – 16 years from the Muslim community were very excited to be exposed to coding for the first time. She admonished the girls to embrace coding as it can be used as a tool to step up and become designers, creators, and leaders in this fast-evolving tech world. “It’s time we build a gender-equitable digital future that meets everybody’s needs” Madam Mottey emphasized.
She further provided short career guidance to the young ones, some of whom aspire to become fashion designers, doctors, and scientists among others. “By learning to code, you can apply the skills to opportunities in some of these career domains as learning to code will not necessarily make you computer scientist but will help you develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in every field you find yourselves” the Administrative Director of IIPGH disclosed.
IIPGH team of female volunteers in technology came for the workshop fully prepared with over fifty (50) laptops and 3D printers. The team set up their coding tools at the training centre of Achievers Ghana Foundation with the support of their PR Madam Ayisha Mohammed and her team of energic instructors. The workshop commenced with videos of coding project presentations by other students who participated in similar programs organized by IIPGH. Videos of students online coding programs, and the coding caravan among others played to the participants served as enough motivation as other children their age were able to do similar activities. The testimonials in the videos boosted their morale in readiness for the day’s activities.
One of the key female volunteers of IIPGH, Madam Muniratu Musah, a female engineer from MTN Ghana who was very instrumental in organizing the workshop delivered the opening remarks. Being an engineer and female STEM advocate, she inspired the girls with her life story and how her determination led her journey to become an engineer in the telecommunication profession. “I am the only female engineer in my department therefore be focused on the need to learn programming at a young age, to be able to solve problems, and the benefits for the future, to be creative and innovative, critical and logic thinkers” she added.
Ms. Deborah Ofori-Dartey and Ms. Barbara Asiamah who are kids coding education specialists from the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana helped the girls create exciting games and animations. The practical session was very exciting for the girls as they were taught how to use the scratch programming language to conceptualize and develop their cartons and games. Ms. Ofori-Dartey led a very interactive class and helped the children with the basic concept of programming with scratch software developed by MIT. At the end of the 2hour session, the kids created a ghost game which they played amidst screaming and excitement. They could not believe they just created a game all by themselves and could play it at the same time.
The second programming language, Tinkertoys, which is about designing objects in 3D was led by Ms. Barbara Asiamah, After the Tinkertoys practical session, the girls came in batches around the 3D printers where Ms. Asiamah demonstrated to them how the 3D printer functions. The girls were able to print some of the items designed during the Tinkertoys practical session after learning how to operate the 3G printer. Every child was happy to take home a toy. In total, 43 girls participated in the program and the girls were given gifts to take home.
Background of IIPGH Coding Initiative
Since March 2018, the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) with its partners embarked on a major initiative to get children, teenagers, graduates, and professionals to learn Computer Programming or what is being called Coding. The initiative was designed to provide structured training for students starting with kids. To create awareness about the importance of coding, especially for young people, workshops, radio, and television talk shows were organized.
Online Coding Lessons
In April 2020 during the first Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana in partnership with GoDi Africa moved the coding program online. The lessons which are now being delivered via Zoom have been embraced by both students and parents. For parents, it is convenient as they will not have to drive every weekend to the training centre for their wards’ coding lessons. The students are also happy with the online lessons because all lessons are recorded and shared with them. This makes it possible for students to playback the entire lesson for revision or to catch up with any session missed. Visit https://iipgh.org/iipgh-coding-project/ for more details.
Author: Gifty Mottey – Administrative Director, Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH)
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