Lessons Learned: Digital Skills Improve Confidence for Girls October 3, 2017 by Krista Park Berry
By Carolyn Lamere
In my first couple of weeks as the summer 2017 Peacock Fellow, I spent some time getting to know some of Carolina for Kibera’s existing programs, before beginning to strengthen ties and reinvigorate partnerships with other organizations across Nairobi. As part of this introduction, I spent a wonderful couple of hours with some participants in CFK’s computer skills training course. This course is open to girls ages 17-22, who receive training in not only basic computer skills like typing, word processors, and spreadsheets, but also in high level coding and graphic design.
The young women I spoke to were bright, energetic, and enthusiastic about their field of study. Some of the participants were not attracted to computers specifically before beginning the program – “after finishing Form 4 [grade 12], I had nothing to do, so I just decided to have the chance,” one woman told me. However, after completing the program, they are passionate about computers, programming and graphic design, and are confident that their new skills will open doors for them. “It’s a world of technology,” said one participant, noting that if you don’t have experience with computers, “you’ll just be left behind.
All the participants spoke of the challenges of getting well-paying jobs, but said this program had given them confidence. “If I was to pick a job before attending this course, I would say any job is ok. But since I’ve gone through the program, I’ve learned a lot of things – my mindset is set for what I’ve learned. I can’t go for [just] any job,” one participant noted. Another said that “we have a lot of hopes,” and a third agreed: “we’ll keep trying. Because they say winners never quit, so we are going to try until we get it.”
I also asked these program participants for suggestions for how to improve the program for future cohorts. The number one suggestion was to increase the capacity of the program to allow more young women to participate. The women also reported some challenges which could be addressed with more funding – for example, a generator could be used to allow them to continue to learn even during electricity outages, which they said occurred roughly every other day. Some funding cuts from donors also led to some lessons being abridged.
The women I spoke to have the drive to succeed, and to build a better life for themselves and their families. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
The Girls Training Center is a cornerstone of CFK’s technology initiative and was created exclusively for girls interested in learning information technology. In partnership with Nairobits Trust, an organization based in Nairobi that strives to empower marginalized youth living in slums, our computer lab programs offer girls training in different aspects of multimedia, web and graphic design, online research and coding in different languages.
CFK’s initiative is unique in that it helps develop the whole girl: educating her mid, supporting her health, and help secure her future success. Beyond computer skills, girls learn about entrepreneurship and life skills, including topics like marketing and branding to self-esteem and confidence to reproductive health and wellness.