After one month of dedicated training, the second class for the ladies in python has come to an end. They took part in the intro to python programming where basically the basics in python language where taught them. We had the slow learners and the fast learners; and we ensured they came to the lab outside training sessions to enable us put them through the ones they find difficult. The training started off with 15 ladies in attendance but a few of them didn’t make it to the last lap and that was quite challenging to us. Nine persons were certified with outstanding performance and will continue to the intermediate python programming class.
Our appreciation goes to the Google RISE awards…
The ladies with their certificates
The Python Programming class begins on the 5th June 2013 with 14 participants (instead of 15). The class kicked off with an introduction from the instructor Zane Cochran, an intern from New Georgia Tech University, the staff of iLab was introduced as well. I introduced myself as the training assistant, I act as a point of contact with the Ladies on any issue(s) they have in class or after class. The participants introduced themselves finally using various adjectives like; eloquent, jovial, classy, et al to describe themselves…indeed they were!
They all created their blogs so as to write about their progress in the python class. You can click on this link to check them out: http://ilab.zanecochran.com/?page_id=140
Wow! Our ladies are awesome… ‘Never say you can’t till you’ve given it a try’.
iLab’s Girls in ICT program
- Is meant mainly for girls in high school or those who have recently left high school/starting university.
- Is free to participants.
- You can take one or more courses.
- Lasts June- August.
- Even has an international element to it – with Ugandan, Kenyan and South African collaboration!
The different trainings offered are:
- Mastering the Internet.
- Introduction to Social media.
- Introduction to Python Programming.
- Intermediate Python Programming.
The ICT for girls at iLab started with a two days ICT Careers workshop with over 40 (forty) beautiful ladies in attendance. Two representatives from Google (Roxanna and Nana) were there to speak to the ladies and you know what?…. the ladies were indeed motivated. .
In October of last year we did a blog post about the demographics of people that use iLab. Since then, we have tallied up our users and now we have the stats on who has used iLab up until December 2012. There are lots of changes that have taken place in the new stats of our users.
Female participants – the minority
The number of female participants is very low as usual. During this period, 19% of the total participants were female and the remaining 81% male. This low figure reflects a common Liberian perception that the ICT sector is best suited for men. At a recent girls-only iLab event, a participant noted that she was discouraged from entering the ICT field by various people because it would too much math and coding. To help create more gender equality, iLab now has a customized ICT-Girls Mastering the Internet course which is exclusively for women and high-school aged girls. We believe this course will serve as a stepping stone to encourage Liberian women to learn about the Internet and its many components as they gain more exposure to the opportunities before them in the field of ICT.
Intermediate and advanced courses get a boost
We also now have a lot of Intermediate and advanced trainings, unlike before. When iLab was first launched, we started with basic courses like Intro FOSS, Intro Mastering the Internet, Intro Website design, etc. But as the months went by, the participants who took these courses kept coming to iLab and wanting more. Because of this demand, we now have intermediate and advanced level courses that were previously only offered at the intro level. For example, 46% of people who took Intro FOSS have come back to iLab to take the Intermediate FOSS. We might have even offered the Intermediate FOSS to a larger of number students , if iLab were able to admit all participants who take the pre-test for the Intermediate. We often turn down a lot of interested participants because our two labs only hold 15 participants for a course. Thus, we are not able to hold as many people in the intermediate FOSS course as want to attend. The Intermediate FOSS course is offered in one of the labs approximately every two months.
TED talk – our most popular event
From the inception of iLab until now, we have always referred to Intro FOSS as iLab’s most popular course, and it sure is. No other course at iLab has drawn more interest and produced a high number of participants like the Intro FOSS course. However, it’s now time to also recognize our most popular public event – TED talk night. From the testimonies we have received, many see it as being more interesting, inspirational and overall very educational.
iLab recently evaluated their usage records from May 2011 to February 2012 to see who is using iLab and what parts of iLab they are using. Here is what we found:
Who uses iLab
By far the majority of iLab users consider themselves students. Since a user can select more than one way of describing themselves it’s possible that many of our users are students while they are also employed. Also, the Liberian education system is notoriously slow and students often have large gaps in their class schedule, so it’s possible that not everyone who considers themselves a student is actively taking class, but in the process of completing an education program. Entrepreneurs and IT professionals round out the top 3 places. Interestingly the least number of users are government and NGO staff. This may appear surprising since these two sectors are the largest sources of formal employment. However, unemployment and informal employment in Liberia are known to be quite high. To encourage those who are formally employed to come to iLab we hold a lot of our events after hours.
What events are people attending
When it comes to iLab events the mapping parties and TED talks are the clear leader. This is most likely because these are our longest running and most frequently offered events. Google technology events and our introduction to Free Open Source Software (FOSS) events are also quite popular. It should be noted that this graph represents the number of individuals that have attended 1 or more of the given events. If we were to count the number of repeat users TED talks and Mapping parties would be much higher. The graph on the left shows the number of users who have attended 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 or more events. This shows that mapping parties draw more repeats users. When looking at the numbers we do see that TED talks draw more first time users. As we continue to offer events we hope to better capture the number of new and repeat users for all of our events.
Finally we end with a look at gender. Out of 335 users 278 (83%) were male and 57 (17%) were female. Quite a large discrepancy. We certainly do our best to encourage participation of both genders, but it seems, as is often the case around the world, participation by the fairer sex is lacking in the technology sector. iLab is currently talking with an organization about creating a curriculum specifically to target young ladies. We’re excited about this opportunity and hope it comes to fruition.
For those of you who want raw data to play with, like all good computer scientist would, please see this Excel File.