Kenny is a Cape Town engineer, author, motivational speaker and activist aiming to bring digital literacy skills to marginalised communities in the greater Cape Town region. Her interest in coding started at university. "I studied electrical engineering and coding formed part of our curriculum. Back then, there were no easy ways to code - we had to sit for hours every day, and if there was a problem with the code it would sometimes take days to find it and fix it. It wasn't very user-friendly and you really had to be determined to even consider a career in coding," she says.
Kenny says she was inspired after attending an Africa Code Week Train-the-Trainer
coding workshop at the Cape Town Science Centre. "When I saw Scratch for the first time, I immediately noticed its potential for teaching coding basics to children and beginners of all levels in a fun, interactive, and simple way. The coding concepts weren't new to me, but the way it was taught was completely revolutionary. I decided I had to become part of Africa Code Week
and take basic coding skills to communities in Cape Town. I had a vision of training 1 000 people, but, of course, couldn't do that alone."
To make Kenny's ambitions a reality, she took the project to The Hope Network, an organisation dedicated to awarding scholarships to female students in STEM fields. "There was such a natural alignment between Africa Code Week's
vision and The Hope Network, that we couldn't miss the opportunity to play a meaningful role in this year's initiative. We pulled the team together and partnered with the Sakhikamva Foundation, then sourced trainers and venues, trained volunteers, installed the necessary software, conducted some marketing to secure bookings, and got our back-office operations up-and-running in record time. We wanted to give our attendees a professional experience and make the workshop as accessible as possible to people across Cape Town. This proved to be a bit costly, but luckily we heard of the Africa Code Week Google Micro Grants
and immediately applied. We were delighted when our initiative was accepted and we became a 2016 Google Grant
recipient," Kenny says.
For Kenny, the bigger picture is seeing more talented girls enter STEM fields. "I'd love to see people changing their perspective on coding and to start getting their foot in the door with this exciting field, especially among women. I believe that initiatives such as Africa Code Week
helps address problems of access to digital literacy by removing barriers to entry. Africa Code Week
brings together partners from across the public and private sectors to work towards a common goal: developing Africa's next generation of workers to ensure the continent's success in the global economy. Without funding and project support from organisations such as SAP and Google, we would not be able to do the important work of uplifting Africa's youth to the benefit of all who call the continent home."
From October 15 to 23 October, thousands of coding activities were organised across 30 African countries and online. This year's aim was to engage 150 000 youth across Africa to write their first lines of code. While the results for 2016 have not yet been released, the target for 2016 is expected to be exceeded. The results will be released in the third week of November. Africa Code Week’s
long-term goal is to empower more than 200 000 teachers and positively impact the lives of five million children and youth within the next 10 years.
For more information, visit africacodeweek.org
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