Guyanese girls soaring high in technology

― “Information Technology is very interesting and it will take over the world soon.” – Keshia Craig, Grade 9 student

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, April 27, 2019

Today marks one year since the Guyanese Girls Code Initiative was implemented by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications. This programme not only allowed girls in Guyana the opportunity to achieve empowerment through computer technology but it connected girls from many different schools. From Region 4 to 10, girls were able to participate in this initiative.

The Guyanese Girls Code programme began in April 2018, with 56 girls from Grades 6 to 9.

It was split into two phases. In the first phase, all 56 girls were introduced to Scratch programming, where they learnt to explore problem-solving and were exposed to the fundamentals. Scratch is a block-based visual programming language and online community targeted primarily at children. At the end of the programme, the girls were able to build games, create animations and worked with the BBC micro: bits.  This phase was completed in July 2018.

The second phase began on September 2, 2018, with 20 of the girls continuing to more advanced programming called Python. Python Programming utilised a programme that was created by some of the most skilled programmers in the world. It has influenced other programming languages such as JavaScript and Cobra. Participants were also taught to work with databases. Now, they can create simple applications and connect them to databases.

The Department of Public Information (DPI) visited the students in their classroom area at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), while they were writing their final exam in Python programming.

Mackenzie High School Grade 9 student, Kishia Craig, said she was inspired to join the programme after watching a documentary based on the evolvement of technology. Since then, she has gained a keen interest in the field.

“I realised that this is not something hard and that it is something I could pursue and make a future with. Information Technology is very interesting, and it will take over the world soon,” Craig said.

Queens College student, Lorelei Kanhai is another girl who successfully completed the first phase and was in the class today completing her final exams for phase two. “I applied for this programme to get a better understanding of Information Technology and the world of tech since I didn’t really grasp the concept before. I can certainly say by coming here, I’ve gotten a much better understanding of it and I actually really like it [now.]”

Alicia Layne is a young lecturer at the University of Guyana who teaches Computer Science. “Girls are underrepresented in the ICT related fields and the Guyanese Girls Code Initiative addresses this problem at its core,” she said.

“These girls have been empowered to solve problems in their communities as we observed in some of their projects using ICTS and that is the goal.”

Working along with Alicia, is UG’s final year Computer Science student, Rayad Lackhan.

“Right now, we are working with some of the most brilliant minds I have ever worked with. I have also volunteered in the other courses and this has been very productive.”

After completing Phase 2, the girls will continue to the third phase, which is Internships. The top performers will benefit from paid internships with local IT companies over the August holiday.

Alleya Hamilton.

Images: Marceano Narine.