Coding schools write new future for Afghan girls
Youth across the world remain hungry for employment in the digital economy. Enter coding schools. They provide digital skills training and fast track students into employment. In Afghanistan, where barriers to the education of girls remain, coding schools offer much more.
PHOTO CREDIT: AngelHack
Take Code to Inspire. The extracurricular coding school teaches mobile app and web development, gaming, full-stack development and graphic design. Its graduates enter the employment pipeline with in-demand skills.
The school's mission is to build a generation of women ready, willing and able to code Afghanistan's future.
The conditions are ripe for change
Learning coding is by no means the only solution to breaking with Afghanistan’s four decades history of conflict. According to Code to Inspire Founder and CEO Fereshteh Forough, Afghan youth are "entrepreneurial, enthusiastic and anti-war." This young population is vital to Afghanistan's future development.
The alignment of global digital transformation with Afghanistan's emergence from war is an undeniable chance for youth to drive social change.
Afghanistan's youth are seizing this opportunity.
They blend tradition and digitalization to maximize impact. Forough decreases enrollment barriers by making Code to Inspire all-female, free, computer-equipped and internet-enabled. Lima Madomi, Program Coordinator of TechWomen Afghanistan, publicizes technology's benefits. She staged awareness-building events in Herat and Kabul in celebration of Girls in ICT Day 2018.
The power of virtual mobility
Madomi and Forough note that Afghan girls sometimes lack the freedom to study and work outside their hometown.
Digital skills training offers Afghan girls virtual professional mobility.
"The beauty of technology is that you don't necessarily have to be present to make a change. You can be anywhere and use these tools to empower other people around the world." – Fereshteh Forough, Founder & CEO, Code to Inspire
Forough coordinated 12 outsourcing projects involving over ten students. They work remotely doing web development, graphic design and mobile app development for individuals, companies and organizations.
An enterprising 12th-grade Code to Inspire student convinced a company to pay her for freelance web development. This young woman’s confidence on the job market is the result of what Forough believes is the main benefit of teaching girls to code – empowerment.
"When you say digital transformation, it's about how the digital knowledge that you gain in a traditional community, like Afghanistan, can be a way of raising awareness about women's capabilities." – Forough
Forough encounters students who arrive at Code to Inspire with no knowledge of technology. Over the course of the two-year program students transform into self-confident, skilled and marketable job candidates.
"I think the most important thing beside technical learning is how you change the minds of people in the community to the work of the students which is more valuable." – Forough
A new role in the family
Earning money online helps Afghan girls establish themselves as decision makers within their families. Forough explains: "When you bring money to the family, you're now part of the decision making process of the family."
Change takes time. By targeting girls and young women, initiatives like Code to Inspire and Girls in ICT Day Afghanistan, signal the importance of investing in Afghan youth.
In Forough’s words, "When you have well-educated women, the next generation will be more educated and they will be more inclined towards peace rather than war."