Over the past 6 years, @iLabAfrica has worked with Girls in marginalized areas in Kenya and trained them on using ICT. Many Girls tend to shy away from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics )subjects as they believe that these are boy’s only subject.  Its because of this that @iLabAfrica is trying to change this notion through implementing various programs where Girls are trained on using various ICT tools and mentored on ways they can take up STEM courses as a career.

GoogleRise Awards

In 2015, @iLabAfrica was among 37 organizations from all over the world that got a grant from Google RISE Awards. These awards are for organizations that;

  1. Pro­mote Com­puter Science education
  2. Run ini­ti­at­ives that reach girls, under­rep­res­en­ted minor­it­ies and stu­dents facing socio-economic bar­ri­ers below the age of 18.

This is in the light that there will be more Com­puter Sci­ence jobs in the near future than the num­ber of Com­puter Sci­ent­ists avail­able.  The first edition took place during the April holidays. The program was aimed at expos­ing young girls between ages 12 to 18 years to the vari­ous aspects of Com­puter Sci­ence and also demys­tify it as an interesting subject. It was also aimed at encouraging them to consider it as a future career choice.

At the end of the course, the girls could write their own code and come up with their own games, blogs and also communicate effectively. Most of the girls said that this exper­i­ence helped them appre­ci­ate Com­puter Sci­ence and would con­sider tak­ing it up as a future career choice. The event ended with an award cere­mony where all the girls were presen­ted with Cer­ti­fic­ates of par­ti­cip­a­tion and “Swag” from Google Kenya team. The girls who showed out­stand­ing per­form­ance in their classes were also awar­ded with vari­ous gifts. The video on the impact the program had on the girls can be accessed here.

 ICT Skills for 10,000 Kenyan Rural Girls

In 2013, the Girl Effect funds supported the ICT based workshops for teachers and students held in Mutune, Kitui at St. Columba’s Vocational Center. Kitui is 86.2 % rural which is higher than the country’s average, 67.7%. The students in the area face many challenges both social and economic. For example, Kitui has 46 schools and in Mutune area, only 4 have computer labs. The students have very limited access to computers. In addition to this, most of them do not complete their studies as they are married off at an early age to elderly men.

 The Girl Effect funds greatly contributed to solving these challenges. Workshops were held for high school girls to train them on ICT, leadership and life skills; and also for head teachers to educate them on the importance of investing in ICT in their schools. These workshops aimed at changing the perceptions of girls on ICT and boosting their self esteem. The workshops drew out their perceptions on ICT, the challenges they faced and the solutions or the way forward.

Internet Society Grant in Enhancing Teaching ICT Skills

ISOC has supported the research centre in one of its key projects in promoting ICT access in Education. The project entitled: ‘Use of ICT in Enhancing Teaching and Curriculum delivery in marginalised Secondary Schools in Kenya’ aims at developing Open Educational Resources for secondary schools, improving IT infrastructure in schools, enabling Internet/Web access (including the local communities), mentoring secondary school students and supporting teachers in the delivery of the Computer Studies course offered as part of the official KCSE curriculum for secondary schools in Kenya.

Open Day and Computer Science Competitions for Girls

On 23rd of January 2010 we organised an Open Day workshop for 2nd and 3rd year high school students taking computer studies. The open day brought together over 200 students from the 5 participating schools and stakeholders in the ICT industry to motivate and discuss the challenges and solutions facing the teaching of computer studies in secondary schools. The Open Day was aimed at creating interest in Computer Science in the students -especially girls. Speakers from Government, ICT industry and academia addressed the students. The students also had a practical lab session.