Amid great risk, painful narratives and more, we also have a reason to smile and cherish. As part of the ‘Girls Who Code’ initiative, the girl children of domestic workers in Pune are receiving training on computer coding. The training is not only helping them improve their creative, logical and problem-solving skills but also their academic skills, shares Madhu Pandey, Program Officer, AEAI South Asia.
Every Saturday evening, a group of girl children assemble at the AEA run Child Support Centre in Pune, to diligently learn the skills of computer coding. These girls, in the age group 10-14 years are from poor families of domestic workers and are part of the AEA’s ‘Redefining life of girl children of domestic workers through Quality Education’ project supported by WeKare in Pune. The girls did not know what coding was when they began their journey of learning coding in September 2021.
“The 4-month foundation training covered commands, sequences, variables, loops and conditionals. We intend to teach advanced coding concepts and languages as they progress further,” informs Nikita, the coding instructor.
The training has changed the way these children look at technology and is empowering them to create digital tools.
“Initially, I was a bit worried as I was clueless about coding. But soon after I took my first class, I realized coding is my thing. I would eagerly wait to learn new concepts every week,” says Vijaya Vishwekar, a class 9 student who had been part of the project for the last 3 years. “Coding helped me improve my English vocabulary. Thanks to coding, now I am good at time management, and understand the difference between hard work and smart work,” Vijay adds.
“The way coding needs logical reasoning and breaking complex problems into simpler parts is relatable to me in my real life too. These methods are helping me address some of my personal issues too, “ says Muskaan, an 11th grader.
The coding classes are complementing what is being taught in their school and help them improve communication and analytical skills. There is a significant improvement in the academic competencies of these girl children. “The classes focus on problem-solving and analytical skills which are much needed in academics and day-to-day activities. The subjects like science and maths that once I found to be complex are now simple and easily understandable,” says Gayatri More.
Similarly, Anjali, a class X student, heard about coding through online ads but didn’t know what exactly it was. She came to know about the coding class through a friend who is part of the project. Access to a laptop gave her the added advantage of practising the concepts at home during weekdays. She aims to become an IAS and is confident that coding can be helpful in her pursuit to crack the UPSC exam in future. She now plans to develop apps for the safety of girls in her locality.
Keeping in view of the safety and comfort of the girls, a vehicle was engaged to pick up the girl children from different locations where the child support centres function and drop them back after the class.
In the month of November, a felicitation program was organized where these girls received certificates of participation. The girls were more than happy to share their experience of learning to code.
On any other evening, these girls attend the Child Support Centres where they receive special classes to improve their academic skills. Alongside encouraging these girls to develop innovations and critical skills including creativity and empathy, the coding classes are providing them with an opportunity to view the world differently and unlock their potential.