Science and Technology have been seen as the preserve of males, and females have historically been side-lined in the quest for education, especially in these fields.

A lot of efforts have been made to correct this anomaly, including the inception of the Girls in ICT Day by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) of the United Nations, to inspire and encourage girls to pursue a future in the ICT space.

As was stressed by the Union, “For girls and young women to thrive in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, they need to acquire skills to become both ICT users and creators in the digital world.” For this reason, the theme for the 2023 Girls in ICT Day was “Digital Skills for Life”.

The Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH), a professional association and capacity-building organization has always supported female inclusion in the ICT Sector. This is evident in its campaigns and initiatives over the years, especially in its Coding Education for Ghana Initiative with a focus on the ‘Early Start’. This initiative is to introduce coding to children from the ages of six (6) years to teenagers and professionals. This initiative encourages the participation of more girls by giving a discount to female students who sign up for the Program. One of the campaigns aimed at driving female inclusion in the ICT space is the celebration of Girls in ICT Day.

This year, with its partner, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT), IIPGH decided to celebrate this day by organizing its maiden Coding Caravan for the year with 200 girls from different schools in the Birim Central Municipal, Akim Oda, Eastern Region, on the 27th of April 2023. This was led by the women’s wing of the Institute.

The girls who were a mix of Primary and Junior High School students were introduced to the concept of Computer Programming using Scratch, a fun, interactive, and easy-to-use platform, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They created some simple animations and were shown the 3D Printer, which is used to print three-dimensional objects designed with an application like Tinkertoys.

The municipal’s director of education, Mrs. Esther Quaye-Sowah; deputy director for finance and administration, Mrs. Ruth Kyere Fekaah from the Ministry of Finance representing the substantive minister of communication–Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful; the CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications-Dr. Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey; the executive director of the Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana-Mr. David Gowu were some of the key personalities present.

Mrs. Esther Quaye-Sowah, in her address, expressed her desire for Ghana to also embrace the positive transformation and socio-economic development STEM education offers, as other countries have, and stressed their determination as a municipal, to collaborate with individuals and establishments who were working towards promoting the improvement of participation of girls in STEM. She ended by encouraging the girls to attain the skills necessary for them to help address the current social problems, in addition to creating an avenue for more women to find a career in the technology space.

She advised that females utilize the vast opportunities technology is making available by pursuing a career in ICT.

Dr. Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey engaged the girls through questioning to realize the various issues in the community and how they can be addressed with innovations in ICT. He advised the girls to take full advantage of the benefits offered by technology while being wary of the negative consequences presented by the same. Mr. David Gowu reiterated IIPGH’s resolve to tackle the gender disparity in the ICT space.

During the session, IIPGH coding facilitators, Miss Deborah Ofori-Dartey and Miss Barbara Asiamah–Digital Skills Training Supervisors; Miss Blessing Momoh–a Coding instructor and Mr. Opuni Frimpong–Lead Tutor, IIPGH, helped the girls create simple animations using the Scratch Programming Software and showed them how Tinkertoys, a 3D development platform can be used together with 3D Printers to create simple 3D items. There were 2 groups of 100 students with one facilitator leading at a time, and the other facilitators, the GCT team, and female volunteers from the IIPGH Women’s Wing assisting students who needed additional support.

At the end of the session, some girls who actively participated in the training by asking and answering questions were rewarded with some 3D-printed materials and some GCT and partner-branded souvenirs. The session was very impactful considering the many coding concepts taught with the limited time available.

The Coding Caravan
Technology education and skills development should not be the preserve of the affluent in our society, it must be democratized and accessible by all. This is because emerging technology skills are now essential tools for employment in the 21st century, and in the next decade, may become a requirement for any type of job. To prepare the next generation and equip them with the skills needed to fit into the demands of the future, the Coding Caravan was birthed in August 2021.

They are carried out as workshops where laptops with coding software installed, are made available for students to learn. Instructors from IIPGH and staff from the partner organizations move from community to community, engaging these young minds. It usually begins with curious minds having little or no knowledge in the use of basic ICT tools and coding, to satisfy and excite children hungry for more.

The Coding Caravan helps spark the interest of students in Tech, who might otherwise not have heard of such. This initiative must be replicated across all regions, and in all communities, especially the remote areas. An example to drive home this point is that, after all the buzz around the recently introduced ChatGPT platform, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology-powered tool that is developed to have human-like conversations, no student among the 200 girls had heard of it.

Students in African countries like Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda are leading innovations in the adoption of technology in the education space. In an era where most services are rendered using technology, where e-learning is becoming a norm, and where access to jobs has shifted from the traditional paper CV and interview sessions in physical spaces to skills-based and online interview sessions, there cannot be a better time for Ghana to increase the campaign for tech skills development at a tender age.

The Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana calls on Government and Private agencies and Individuals to support in cash and kind to spread their reach across the country.

Similarly, IIPGH has been involved in many other skills training programs and provides support towards Female-Inclusion in the Tech Industry.

Code Like a Girl
IIPGH and its implementation partner, GoDi Africa, collaborated with Vodafone Ghana to train 1000 girls in coding dubbed, “Code Like a Girl”. The trained professionals from IIPGH, assigned to 40 virtual classes, conducted a 5-week intensive coding program for girls from ages 7–18 years, trained in Block Coding, 3D Design, and Web Design.

Seats for Ladies in STEM initiative (S4LIS)

Seats For Ladies in STEM (S4LIS), is an initiative to fast-track Africa’s sustainable development through STEM, by increasing the percentage of ladies taking up STEM-related jobs from 30% in 2021 to 40% by 2031. The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications being the brainchild, aims to achieve this by advocating for the education, training, and hiring of more women and other underrepresented groups in STEM, which can lead to better scientific and financial outcomes. This initiative was outdoored in December 2022 with companies being encouraged to provide permanent employment, internships, national service, and mentorship opportunities for Ladies in STEM Fields.

The Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana signed up to be a key supporter of this initiative by reserving more of their roles for women.

Previous Girls in ICT Days

In 2022, the Institute celebrated the day with Achievers Ghana Foundation Girls in Nima, Accra by introducing the girls in the Muslim Community to Coding. In 2019, the Accra Chapter of the Institute together with the MTN Women in Tech Wing interacted with and mentored the girls of Adonten Senior High School, asking relevant technology questions to open their minds to the endless possibilities available to them in this area. The Brong Ahafo Chapter engaged the girls of Sunyani High School in a similar direction.

The Institute is forever poised in its resolve to use all available avenues to achieve balanced gender participation in STEM and calls on stakeholder support to achieve this goal.


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