Tech Dada, is one of the luckiest Kenyan initiative that has been chosen to participate at the innovation marketplace to showcase their innovation at MIT’s Cambridge campus with Massachusetts Institute being the host. The event which is supported by USAID will kick off at 10th through 12th November 2016.
The aim of the event is to help young students and innovators to showcase their talents using technology, science, innovation and collaboration to solve international challenges. The event will be featuring the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) TechCon 2016. Tech Dada which is an initiative which is within Tunapanda Institute, seeks to provide girls and young women with adequate mindsets and required skills for them to successfully carry out the 21st Century opportunities.
Tech Dada envisions many East African young women pursuing careers inn technology, design & business as they put their emphasis on solving real world problems both locally and globally. To achieve this, they have come up with a curriculum and various courses that increase the awareness of tech opportunities and they have community outreach programs which engages with local organizations and institutions, such as schools and nonprofit organizations.
Research shows that by 2050, an estimated 40% of the world’s children will be in Africa, and the population of our continent is set to increase from 1.2 billion today to over 4 billion people by 2100. While the educational opportunities will be insufficient for all children, the situation is especially dire for girls. About 28 million girls aged between 6 and 15 years are currently out of school and may never enter a classroom to learn. The education and opportunities that are available (or not available) to today’s girls will have a profound impact not just in local communities – but on the entire world. What is needed is innovative, low-cost, scalable solutions that reimagine the learning experience for Africa in a digital world, which the initiative is providing.
In the past year, Tech Dada has held workshops and provided training and workshops for over 430 girls and young women in rural and urban communities of Kenya. The beneficiaries of the program report encouraging results from even a few short sessions. The girls are more confident speaking in front of a group, more articulate in sharing their ideas, more interested in technology and more aware of the challenges facing women in the industry, as well as the tools they can use to overcome those challenges.
To overcome the challenges they are facing such as lack or resources, Tech Dada is developing a gamified learning platform called Swag, an open source software system – web and Android – that enables individuals and groups to learn without highly-trained teachers and can be deployed in low/no internet situations. The curriculum is based on Tunapanda’s successful 3-month course in Kibera, Nairobi. A prototype of the software can be seen at Tunapanda.org. The curricula will focus on demystifying and contextualizing tech and provide instruction in how users can be able to use technology to create solutions for local challenges. Upon completion of any course, girls and young women will earn skill-based badges and a course certificate which can help them get jobs in the digital economy.
In addition to helping girls and young women develop the skills they need, Swag will also help young women and girls feel more comfortable in tech. We will partner with local cyber cafes, libraries, society organizations and schools to install the software on their computers. Local cyber owners, teachers, and library attendants will be trained on Swag so they can help students and they will be encouraged to set up “girls spaces”, either physically or through special “girls hour” times to reduce sexual harassment (which many young women report as being a main reason they don’t utilize cyber cafes).
Tech Dada plans to expand operations to provide more workshops and engage with more communities in the coming years, and also wants to continue developing innovative solutions to the very important issues of gender inequality in IT.