With ever-changing technology, the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation and Fliptin Venture Builder held an intensive three-day boot camp to introduce young girls to artificial intelligence, coding and creative design.
Sixty girls from Usasazo, Siphamandla, Chris Hani, Joe Slovo and Harry Gwala high schools took part in the boot camp at Luhlaza High School in Khayelitsha on Sunday June 9.
The boot camps are being held across the country in celebration of Youth Month with a focus on youth development for high school girls.
The boot camp was mainly aimed at exposing and introducing young girls between the ages of 15 and 18 to technology, which would prepare them to compete in a digitally-driven economy.
Representative of Fliptin Venture Builder, Leah Paul, said the boot camp focused on using artificial intelligence and design thinking to create purposeful, high impact solutions that tackle social challenges in their communities.
She said through such initiatives they are attempting to address the systematic exclusion of youth in a variety of 21st century careers.
They also hoped to improve the girls’ prospects at digital inclusion and subsequent socio-economic empowerment.
The girls are taught how to apply technology to their lives to create solutions for their communities.
The boot camp exposes the pupils to a working environment of cutting-edge technologies, including how to build computer chat-bots, package their individual tech ideas and solutions, and pitch their innovations to a panel of judges. The pupils are mentored by leading professionals and entrepreneurs.
Ms Paul said the girls were divided into groups of six and stood a chance of winning bursaries.
“We feel that the girls have been underprivileged and we are trying to get them to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) careers. We want girls to believe that they could do all the technology jobs which are often done by males. We want girls to be civil engineers and engineers. We want to build them up to become more confident.”
Ms Paul said many parents push their girl children to follow professions such as teaching and nursing but they want girls to aim for skills that have previously been out of their reach.
Usasazo High School pupil, Cumisa Vumazonke, said she has learnt a lot about technology and the boot camp has been an eye-opener.
The 17-year-old Grade 12 pupil said she has learnt about creative thinking and ways to solve tricky problems in her community, as well as how to conduct herself. She said she wants to pursue a career in mechatronics.
Idea Collective organisation director, Maria Day, said for them it was all about preparing girls for skills which they would need in the 21st century.
She said they were no longer telling children that if they were not doing maths and science they were not good enough. Instead,
she said people should have an inclusive mindset and take the skills that the girls have and channel them properly.