|Sept - Dec 2016|
|Global Digital Innovation|
Rails Girls is a coding workshop that was initiated in 2010 in Finland. Founded as a one-woman initiative, the Rails Girls project is a volunteer-based project that opens the door for young women to take part in the digital revolution. It is now become something of a movement that focuses on drawing young women into the coding world, dominated by men.
More importantly, the way in which the workshop is organised demonstrates a strong civic sense of community involvement that actually empowers young women to become confident about making career choices in the new digital space.
Over two days at the workshop young women are taught the basics of Ruby on Rails, a program that opens the door to creating applications and websites. While the instruction is at an introductory level, the participants enjoy hands-on training under the supervision of local coaches.
A fundamental principle of the Rails Girls approach is that no one gets paid – neither the coaches nor the organisers – and sponsors cover all costs. It is a tribute to the commitment of the Rails Girls supporters around the world that the event enjoys very significant support from the software community.
This event is the first one in South Africa and its success will drive it into other South African cities.
The two-day workshop is planned to accommodate 20 participants, 10 of whom will be selected on the basis of their disadvantaged circumstances.
Rails Girls Johannesburg has decided to limit the ages of participants for this workshop to between 15 and 18 years. In due course, consideration will be given to older participants.
During the workshop brief inspirational talks by successful people are expected to encourage and inspire the participants to overcome obstacles and to strive to make meaningful contributions in the digital space.
Our ten coaches have requested (at no cost) to take part in leading the workshop. The total number of people at the close of the event will probably be a maximum of 50, including parents and guardians.
The objective will be achieved when the participants feel comfortable about finding their way around coding. But, the workshop will also give them access to a new network of international contacts who have supported Rails Girls Johannesburg.
This event is expected to fan out to other South African cities and, where possible, to schools. The Department of Basic Education’s objective of digitising the curriculum and of offering innovative technology solutions that will empower learners is a part of a philosophy in which the Rails Girls project sits very comfortably.
The participation of the Deputy Minister as a speaker at the close of this event, to which parents of the participants have been invited, bolsters the project and pivots the Department with an event that will roll-out into a national movement among young women.
In addition to the gravitas that the Deputy Minister will lend to this event, his presence and his message will contribute very significantly to influencing young women who need to know that their engagement in the new digital world has the highest support.
The Deputy Minister’s well-known and lengthy track record in the development of our country is by itself inspiring. His tacit support for this initiative will contribute to the learning of young women whose involvement in our country’s growing digital landscape is long overdue.
Digitalnfo is delighted that the Deputy Minister is to be available from about 5pm until 6pm on Sunday 7 December. This will give participants (and the invited parents) an opportunity to meet him briefly so that this will also be a memorable event for them.