I have heard many cases in which people wrongly have thought about only men being capable of doing mathematics, and science. As women, we also have a lot of ability to programme for mathematics and technology.
Shary Alexandra Gómez – student Medellin, Colombia
Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru
British Council funded
Girl Power Codefest aims to increase 21st century skills among teachers and teach programming to girls and young women to improve their access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career opportunities across the Pacific Alliance countries.
Girls and young women in the Americas have traditionally not engaged with technology and other STEM subjects to the same extent of boys and young men and are at risk of being marginalised from future educational and career opportunities. We used our strong record of skills development and inclusive project management, particularly in Colombia and Chile, to create Girl Power Codefest Americas. Girl Power Codefest gives schoolgirls access to computer programming skills using the Micro:bit.
The programme was launched by the UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the Minister of Education of Chile in May 2018. In the first event, 250 girls between the ages of 11 and 13 from Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico participated in a simultaneous Codefest event, connected via streaming, to promote the use of programming at an early age. The girls had to demonstrate their coding skills to solve problems and address challenges through programming, using a group working methodology. In Peru, we found it beneficial to complement coding sessions with social skills training, which has positioned us as an effective partner in the gender and education sector.
Following the success of the programme’s launch in 2018, the British Council in Colombia has signed an alliance with the Ministry of Technology to implement the second phase of the project, called Coding for Kids. This is aligned with the regional priorities of supporting more equal access to quality education. The project will reach 30 municipalities in the country and train a total of 260 public school teachers, who will be able to incorporate programming in their classrooms and engage their students in new ways of learning. The project aims to impact 15,600 students who will develop the skills to use this innovative practice.
Through Codefest Americas we were able to generate some key insights. This included being able to test the Micro:bits in the Latin-American context. We also recognised the importance of finding key partners who were a driver for the successful implementation of the programme.
The partnership has helped to increase visibility of the UK as a leader in STEM and to promote UK foreign policy priorities such as women and girls’ education. It acts as part of our regional strategy to help young people gain the skills, resilience and networks to find pathways to better lives.
We now have a role to play in education in STEM in other South American countries too. The partnership with Positivo Brasil, Micro:bit foundation, government institutions and universities has positioned us as a key provider for pioneering new and innovate skills for teaching.