Geek

It’s hard to know what to do to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for our chil­dren. How­ever, a new cam­paign to get kids cod­ing makes it easy to do your part, writes

CityPress - - News -

Peo­ple of­ten won­der how they, on an in­di­vid­ual level, can help build a fu­ture for South Africa’s chil­dren. Here’s a way: for the price of two movie tick­ets, you can pay for a child to at­tend a Satur­day com­puter science class run by non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Africa Teen Geeks. Or, if you have slightly deeper pock­ets, for the cost of an en­try-level lap­top, you can spon­sor that child for a year – and boost his or her chances of ex­celling in the 21st-cen­tury work­place.

This week, Africa Teen Geeks is launch­ing a fundrais­ing cam­paign, sup­ported by City Press and the SABC Foun­da­tion, to provide trans­port and lunch for dis­ad­van­taged school­child­ren who at­tend its Satur­day morn­ing com­puter science classes around the coun­try.

The Spon­sor a Child to Learn Com­puter Pro­gram­ing cam­paign is be­ing run through the Thunda­fund crowd­fund­ing platform.

Africa Teen Geeks has been us­ing four Unisa com­puter labs for its free weekly classes, which are run by com­mit­ted vol­un­teers. Next month, this pro­gramme will be in­tro­duced to an ad­di­tional 92 train­ing cen­tres na­tion­wide.

The classes teach chil­dren as young as five how to do ba­sic com­puter cod­ing be­fore go­ing on to learn Java pro­gram­ming. Most are from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds and don’t have ac­cess to com­put­ers at home or at school. Africa Teen Geeks founder Lindiwe Mat­lali says: “We will now be able to reach 15 000 chil­dren a week. But the train­ing cen­tres are not located in town­ships, so we have to bring the kids in. For that, we need fund­ing for trans­port. “Also, be­cause the classes last for five hours – the en­tire morn­ing – some of the chil­dren ask for lunch. This is a chal­lenge. If we didn’t provide some of them with lunch and trans­port, they wouldn’t be able to at­tend.” She tells of how, for ex­am­ple, a gov­ern­ment en­tity sent the chil­dren of its clean­ing and se­cu­rity staff to try out the cod­ing classes, but more than a dozen ar­rived with­out lunch. “It’s a prob­lem when some kids are eat­ing and some aren’t, while others just come with bread and mar­garine. There’s po­ten­tial for teas­ing when they aren’t all eat­ing the same thing. Their so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus is de­ter­mined just by the lunch they bring,” Mat­lali says. The cam­paign of­fers in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses the chance to level the play­ing field by giving th­ese chil­dren a de­cent meal while en­sur­ing they don’t have to worry about finding taxi fare to get to class every Satur­day. There are three spon­sor­ship op­tions:

R150 do­na­tion: Spon­sors a child to at­tend com­puter science classes (in­clud­ing trans­port within a 50km ra­dius and lunch) for a day;

R750 do­na­tion: Spon­sors a child to at­tend com­puter science week from July 3 to 7 at Unisa com­puter labs around the coun­try (in­clud­ing trans­port within a 50km ra­dius and lunch); or

R5 250 do­na­tion: Spon­sors a child to at­tend com­puter science classes (in­clud­ing trans­port within a 50km ra­dius and lunch) for a year – 35 Satur­days.

“With only 5% of our schools of­fer­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy as a sub­ject, 95% of South African kids may never have an op­por­tu­nity to learn the im­por­tant dig­i­tal skills that could help them find em­ploy­ment and break the cy­cle of dis­ad­van­tage,” says Mat­lali.

“Thou­sands of chil­dren will now be able to learn how to code and gain valu­able skills. We hope com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als will open their hearts and give th­ese young geeks – es­pe­cially our girl geeks – a shot at im­prov­ing their fu­ture job prospects.”

She says that char­i­ta­ble dona­tions to the cam­paign will be el­i­gi­ble for tax de­duc­tions be­cause Africa Teen Geeks is a reg­is­tered non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion.

To spon­sor a child to at­tend the Africa Teen Geeks com­puter science classes or take part in the com­puter science week through Unisa, visit thunda­fund.com/project/spon­so­rachild and pledge your sup­port.

PHOTO: EU­GENE GOD­DARD

NERD Ler­ato Moeketsi

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