Ms Usha, an IT professional and now Code Club educator shares what inspired her to set up a Code Club, how it is helping learners to gain new skills, and why it is important to empower girls to explore digital making!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I work and live in Dubai as an IT professional, but grew up in Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India. I am a tech enthusiast and believe that it can change people’s lives.
The opportunity was given to me to leave Andhra Pradesh and explore my career options. I wanted to give that chance — that opportunity — to those children in my old village, which was my motivator to go back and set up a Code Club.
I wanted a chance to learn something new and expand my own skills.
Each week, I run my club online from Dubai and have sixty plus club members attending via the local school in Andhra Pradesh.
What inspired you to volunteer for Code Club?
I learned about Scratch when volunteering with the Ministry of Education AI series, in the UAE [in] 2019. The projects created by the students impressed me and encouraged me to learn to code.
I had the assumption that coding wasn’t meant for children and that they wouldn’t understand complicated concepts. After looking at Scratch and the Code Club projects and resources — I thought to myself “Why can’t they?”, rather “Why can’t I?”.
Learning never ends, one should be a student for life!
I decided to start a club in Andhra Pradesh, as I wanted to develop the skills and bring out the hidden talents of the children within that community.
What skills can children gain with Code Club?
With technology comes freedom of expression and the chance for children to set out and achieve something on their own.
In doing so, they face challenges that they must work through to reach their goals. Coding helps them to establish a strong sense of perseverance and encourages learners to come up with their own solutions.
They can use these skills in computing, or outside of it — in the form of homework issues, disagreements with friends, or other personal hardship they may face.
Why is it important to empower girls to explore digital making?
Girls still face many barriers when exploring computing and digital making opportunities. From gender discrimination [and] language difficulties to low literacy and lack of funding.
There are many hidden skills gained through computing, including problem-solving, teamwork, and self-motivation which will support girls with their future education.
Programmes like Code Club also help to improve literacy and education and is another way to help girls reach their potential.
Can you share what you enjoy most about running a Code Club?
Learners at Code Club have a positive attitude about learning new things. I enjoy seeing their creativity and imagination come to life through code, they support each other even if it’s online. Sometimes, I can struggle with the local language, but students jump in and help me out, whilst supporting each other.