By our special correspondent
GetBundi Education Foundation has kicked off the first edition of its free coding training for 500 African women, with experts in the technology sector admonishing beneficiaries to take the training seriously and make the best out of it. The experts, who spoke during the opening ceremony of the free online coding courses tagged ‘TechSis 2023’, which held virtually on June 1, said the training had the potential to bridge the gender gap in the male-dominated tech industry, give women and girls a better deal, and also prepare them to assume their rightful places at the heights of the digital economy.
The free coding training taking place from June 1 to 31 August 2023 is an initiative of GetBundi Education Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of GetBundi Education Technology.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prof Florence Emenalo, Director, Centre for Women and Gender Studies, Imo State University, reiterated the unequal representation and participation of women in the technology sector, saying this was observable in the gender ratios of female students pursuing degrees in tech-related disciplines, as well as the low percentage of women in technical roles within the industry. “There is a general lack of interest in technology for young girls when they begin to think about potential careers. Only 3 percent of them say a career in technology is their first choice,” she said in a presentation titled ‘TechSis 2023: Bridging the Gender Divide in Digital Technology in Africa’. Prof Emenalo, who was guest speaker at the event, lauded GetBundi for taking the initiative to support 500 African women aged 18 and above to learn coding, which is a top-demand skill, for free to make them well-positioned to take up well-paying jobs, thereby creating a source of income for themselves.
She also lauded GetBundi for projecting to support the up-skilling of 10 million Africans in the next 10 years through STEM and STI digital skills acquisition via a strategy tagged “The GetBundi Vision 2033”, but urged the EdTech platform to ensure the up-skilling of more women than men. “To the beneficiaries of this great gesture by a start-up, I enjoin you to take it very seriously and make the best out of it. Women have a role to play too if we must bridge the gender divide in tech. Show commitment, resilience and be the change we seek in the industry,” she said.
Olutomiwa Williams, Microsoft Country Manager for Nigeria and Ghana, commended GetBundi as well as the beneficiaries, saying the initiative would have great positive impact on not just the women participants but also on their families, communities and Africa at large. “We cannot overemphasize the importance of having more female talent join tech. Now that we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where digital is driving every aspect of our lives, we are talking about Internet of Things, cyber security, Artificial Intelligence, data analytics. These are important areas of technology that are shaping our lives today and will continue to shape our lives in times to come. Anyone that is not participating in technology today is automatically disenfranchised from participating in the digital economy,” Williams said.
Ms Amanda Kazzy Cryer, Co-founder, Big Change Makers, said the company was 100 percent committed to the empowerment of women and believes that the “empowerment of women is key to the empowerment of Africa”. She further said Big Change Makers was excited to collaborate with GetBundi to empower the women and men all over Africa. “We believe that everyone on this planet has the power to be a big change maker – it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, where you started,” she said. “We believe that every single one of you can change the world and we are here to support that, to spur people in their journey to change the world if they choose to do so.”
Nora Agbakhamen, Practitioner Coach at Big Change Makers, applauded GetBundi’s commitment to making education in digital skills and STEM sustainable, affordable and, by global standards, qualitative. She advised the participants to take the journey seriously and make it a point of duty to succeed, saying “the future is bright for women that are in IT”.
In her welcome address earlier, Mrs. Juliet Ijei, Course Coordinator, GetBundi Education Technology Company, explained that the maiden edition of TechSis 2023 was the product of the passion and humanity of the GetBundi team, especially the Founder, Osita Oparaugo, to impact the lives of youth, especially women, through Digital Skills training.
“We have surveyed schools and discovered the widening gender gap not just in STEM learning but also in tech community. Which was why we decided to add our efforts to the initiative by pushing to bridge this gap and create a reversal of the ‘techbro’ because we believe that women can learn and can lead the way in technology in Africa if given the opportunity,” Ijei said.
She thanked Microsoft for appointing Ms. Ola Williams as Country Manager for Nigeria and Ghana, saying the GetBundi management was delighted Ms Williams was present as a speaker at the opening ceremony.
“There is no other encouragement or a better role model to these amazing 500 women across Africa participating in this maiden edition than to have you here, Madam. Thank you,” Ijei said.
She said GetBundi, a government-approved online education technology platform designed to deliver high quality, engaging, and accessible STEM and English Language subjects for the six years of secondary education and Digital Skills courses for everyone across Africa, has the goal to use technology to make STEM and Digital Skills learning across Africa accessible to all in easy-to-learn videos at a very affordable price of N2, 000 or $4 per student per month.
She urged the beneficiaries of the free coding training to embrace the golden opportunity, make the most of it and help “make Africa a better place for us all as we work to bridge the divide in tech”. In his closing remarks, Osita Oparaugo, Founder of GetBundi Education Technology Company and GetBundi Education Foundation, sponsors of the TechSis Initiative, told the participants that the programme was a life-changing opportunity for them and the people around them and advised them not to take it for granted.
“It is not enough to say that women are underrepresented in tech. Now you have the opportunity to reduce the percentage of that divide, don’t take it for granted,” he said.
Some of the participants who spoke during the opening ceremony, including Misozy Zulu from Zambia and Victoria Edemeka from Nigeria, expressed their gratitude to GetBundi Education Foundation and pledged to maximize the opportunity to better themselves and the society. Zulu particularly promised to train other women for free having been trained for free herself.