My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 - How Girls Who Code Club at MICO can earn females JA$100,000 per month as Computer Programmers

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 - How Girls Who Code Club at MICO can earn females JA$100,000 per month as Computer Programmers

During the Summer of 2014, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining was involved in an Inaugural Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp that saw some twenty (20) girls from the Corporate Area being taught Computer Programming skills.

They recently received their certificates of Participation and achievement along with Tablets as prizes at a ceremony held at JAMPRO (Jamaica Promotions Corporation) New Kingston offices on Friday August 22nd 2014 as reported in the article “Girls exposed to fun side of coding”, published Thursday, August 28, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

During this month long program which apparently took place in August 2014, the twenty (20) girls were exposed to aspects of Animation and Computer Programming particularly:

1.      Website Programming Languages
2.      Animation
3.      Smartphone App Design

It's rare to bump into a programme that's geared towards getting more Females to do the Pure Sciences, Industrial Technology or even ICT (Information and Computer Sciences). There's a need for that as there is currently a shortage of Females in the Pure Sciences, Industrial Technology and ICT (Information and Computer Sciences) Field either doing it as a career or teaching at the High School, College or University Level.

This is especially true of the ICT field, which doesn’t really exist in Jamaica by itself, but merely as a support to the Telecoms and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Sectors in Jamaica. In short, ICT is a field isn't Male dominated as males aren’t opposed to female entering their field anymore.

Rather, quite simply, the lack of females in the ICT Sector is simply because  a pure ICT Sector doesn’t really exist as I’ve argued in my blog article entitledInternational Girls in ICT Day - How Women can jump-Start Jamaican ICT Industry from Call Centers, Telecom Providers and NDA's”.

One of the things I'd argue in that blog article was the need to educate Females from an early age about Careers in ICT. It seems my prayers have been answered with this Inaugural Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp. Here’s hoping that the Inaugural Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp will be an Annual affair and that it will expand islandwide to include the Rural schools as well.

From the comments of one of the participants, 12-year-old Nastascia Virgo, she might be Hooked on Coding, quote: “We learned how to use a Programming website called Scratch. This experience was really fun, but stressful. For some of us we started with easy games and simple stories, but gradually transformed them into well developed game apps with different levels and animated stories”.

Indeed, it looks like she's gotten bitten by the Programming bug as she thoroughly enjoyed this Inaugural Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp as  “an experience of a lifetime” to carry on to the College and University level!

Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp – Lack of Science and Industrial Technology Majors at MICO

One of the main things I’ve begun to notice at the MICO University College is the fact that very few Females actually do any Industrial Technology or Computer Programming Courses. Most of the Females at the MICO University College seem to be doing courses in Early Childhood Education or English Literature, Home Economics or even Spanish.

I’m yet to bump into any large numbers of Females in the Library or elsewhere doing Pure Sciences, Industrial Technology or Computer Programming Courses, let alone girls who even play Console Video games casually on their downtime, build electronics circuits or even write Computer programs i.e. Engineering and Hands-on tomboy Females. By pure Sciences I mean:

1.      Biochemistry
2.      Biology
3.      Chemistry
4.      Geography
5.      Geology
6.      Mathematics
7.      Physics

Maybe the tomboy Females with these aspirations are the ones wearing the pants on campus, albeit based on the informal Female Fashion Police on the MICO University College Campus, that’s usually a look usually reserved for Second and Third Year Full-Time Teaching Students on this decidedly PNP (People’s National Party) colour themed Campus!

Being a Full-Time Evening Student doing the Professional Teaching Diploma via the Department of Continuing Studies, I can only pass through during the days in my JLP Green Hat and Sunglasses on certain days to sit in the courtyard under the Tree nearest to the Mural to do my homework.

I’ve now opted for the Library as the Internet is faster in the Learning Commons and I can get more work done as I’m surrounded by like-minded Females busy trying to finish up their homework and Projects instead of idling under the trees in the courtyard!

Granted, I’m more of a Visual learner, as I’ve recently discovered in my The Learners we Teach Class. I'm not someone who learns by watching other do things i.e. A Kinesthetic Learner but rather via Reading and Writing combined with my super-strong imagination to guide my minds-eye.

I was expecting a lot of girly-girls at the MICO University College, given the frequency Females try to hit on me as a Male, as on the MICO University College, a Male is as rare as a four-leaf clover and highly coveted way for girls to ‘get luck” if you know what I mean!

Guess that’s not quite true, actually. It’s more of a Female swop-shop for males, so says the Female Fashion Police under the Trees in the courtyard and gaining a boyfriend is their ultimate Battleground!

It's not uncommon to see Male-Female pairs walking on campus holding hands in the twilight as if to emphasize to other Females that this individual belongs to them, usually down by the football field at the back of MICO University College. After all, males are scarce and with fewer males on the dorms, you have to hold on to the quality males you can get.

This man shortage is due to fact that students overall are finding it difficult to afford to come to MICO University College, muchless Board on Campus. Travel to MICO University College means spending JA$120 on the JUTC with your SmarterCard or more to go to the various schools to do their Practicum.

And with Accreditation issues dogging many of the MICO University College courses, many face an uncertain future of Teaching jobs that only pay JA$40,000 per month. Thus males may not be attracted to coming to do a degree at MICO University College.

But even in this Girl Heaven of a learning environment, surely there must be those who intend to teach the Pure Sciences and especially Industrial Technology or Computer Programming Courses, as it can't all be about the “easier” and less Science based courses? Not to mention serve as a distraction from watching the asses and other unmentionable body parts of the few males that dot the campus like rare cacti or even rarer Unicorn.

Thus something is needed on the MICO University College Campus to awaken the fact that the Pure Sciences and especially Industrial Technology or Computer Programming Courses are not just for the Boys but are fields that Females can pursue and be successful in as well as a Career, both as a Teacher as well as an entrepreneur.

“Girls Who Code” Club at MICO - Video Game and Animation need culture of Computer Programming

So it's good to see that Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM) Julian Robinson has it in mind to make this not only an Annual affair but also expand it into the High Schools and possibly Community Colleges, and Universities and hopefully Teacher’s colleges as well, quote: “This is not the end of the road, as with this kind of privilege comes responsibility. I want to ask you to lead coding groups in your schools and to demonstrate to other students what you have done over the four-week period”.

To that end, a “Girls Who Code” Club at the High School level and hopefully at the Teacher Colleges and Universities across Jamaica will solve the problem of Females being unaware of the opportunities that exist in a pure ICT Sector, which technically doesn’t exist in Jamaica, merely serving a supporting role in BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) i.e. Call Centers as well as in the Telecom Sector.

It's a good fit with the TIS (Tablet in School) Project as explained in my blog article entitledTablet In Schools Project launched for September 2014 – How Teachers Benefit as Female interest in ICT Industry Blossoms” as it'll boost Female interest in the ICT as a Career.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams concurred with this assessment, stating it would also boost the entrepreneurial side of Females in this burgeoning pure ICT field that doesn’t really exist.

After all, females who are breadwinners for their families wouldn’t mind having Video Game, Animation, Computer Programming with a dash of smartphone and tablet App Design as additional skills if it mean they could earn JA$100,000 and more in additional income as an independent business at home using you Desktop Computer.

With Animation, Video Game Design and Programming starved of talent, the next big App designer, like TapKat Fiesta App Developer Stephen William as stated in my blog article entitledStephen Williams' Android Game TapKat Fiesta - Social Media Marketing even as VoIP for Corporate and Enterprise untapped Telecoms Opportunity” may be a Female.

In fact, given the need for higher remuneration among female, the pure ICT Start-ups may be created not by groups of males but Females, since from casual observation they tend to have a stronger group work ethic.

Thus encouraging more Female camaraderie via a “Girls who Code” Club with the idea that they too can enter into this burgeoning Computer Programming field is an excellent idea. This as Computer Programming is the underpinning skill behind Animation and Video Game Programming as explained in my blog article entitledAnimation after KingstOOn - How to make a Video Game for PC, Smartphone and Tablet”.

Once they have the right tools and become independent entrepreneurs making their own money as, Video Game Designers, App Developers or even Independent Animators as explained in my blog article entitledJANN to host Intellectual Property Workshop at UTECH – How Independent Animators can Make money from Animation and thwart Copyright Infringement”, they'd be able to create the very ICT Sector that has eluded Jamaica thus far.

Jamaica will eventually be known for more than just Call Centers, where we regurgitate information from manuals and training to White People who just can't seem to read a manual. Hence the reason for the World Bank investing some US$20 million in the Animation Industry in Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica's World Bank's US$105 million Loan – All My Children Animation, SME VC's and Public Sector get Second Chance at Economic Redemption”.

Jamaican Girls Coding 2014 Summer Camp with a Girls who Code Club is the start on the road to getting Females to realize that there are indeed careers in the field of Computer Programming. Best of all, it can lead to work as an Independent Video Games Developer,  Animator or App Developer making as much as JA$100,000 per month.

This would also put us on the map as a Silicon Carib of the Caribbean where content Creation in the field of Video Games, Animation and App Design is done, underpinned by a strong culture of Computer Programming powered by Females with a passion for ICT!

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