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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Siyabonga Melusi Madide has been selected to participate in the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI)) Training of Trainers (TOT) 2022 coding camp, to be held in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania from 25 to 28 April 2022.

The Vryheid-born Madide was successfully informed of his selection through an official letter sent by Ms Hazel Gooding, a representative from the UN Women, Multi Country Office in Pretoria.

She indicated that Madide had been through a competitive process which included two desk reviews by the UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office and UN Women Liaison office to the African Union Commission (AUC) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

“He will be required to attend the three days training of Trainer of Trainers (ToT) and half-day of the launch. The ToT aims to create a pool of trainers that will provide training in a two-week long national coding camp to young girl coders on an array of coding courses in the selected priority countries including South Africa in 2022 and 2023,” she said.

She further explained that the TOT will also ensure that training modules and teaching systems are standardised.

“The training will enable trainees to acquire skills and knowledge in coding and ICT and be able to support national coding camps in their countries,” she added.

Madide is currently completing his honours degree in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Applications Development at the DUT. He is also part of the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics Engagement Committee and is a VarsityGenie member.

After receiving an IBM Bursary for his degree in 2021, he enrolled for an extra-curricular Robotics module at DUT, participating as a robotics facilitator at the DUT MICTSETA  4IR Centre of Excellence for postgraduate students’ launch. Madide also completed his internship at the DUT App-Factory as a software developer intern in May 2021, which played a massive role in kick starting his ICT career. He is also a part time property supervisor at Vascowiz investments where he supervises a DUT leased student residence to ensure that students stay in a conducive environment and make use of technology platforms to empower students. He chose to study IT because he is fascinated by the technologies behind the web and mobile applications used in daily life.

“In my second year of study I met Fanie Ndlovu, the founder of VarsityGenie who gave fascinating AI talks on robotics and coding. He then asked me to attend one of his events with the aim to prepare DUT and the Durban community for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, held in partnership with Google and the Startup Grind, this is where I benefited from VarsityGenie and aligned to our mission to empower individuals and organisations to better world communities,” he expressed.

Upon receiving the news of his selection, Madide said he could not believe it, realising how huge this opportunity is and how competitive the selection process was.

“It took a couple of moments for the information to sink in, but I felt elated and honoured to have become a part of something so fantastic. As soon as I received welcoming letter I then called Mrs Ugeshni Moodley (FAI technician) to notify her of the good news as she always trusted my ICT capabilities. Around 60 trainees will be mobilised and selected through the UN Women country offices based in priority countries such as, Mali, Niger, Mozambique, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal and DRC. Also, six trainees from each priority country will be recruited through a competitive process and receive training, lucky enough I got selected for South Africa,” he added.

Giving more insight into the programme, he said it entails empowering a minimum of 2000 young girls aged between 17 to 25 years for a two-week training, across Africa to become computer programmers, creators and designers, placing them on track to take up studies and careers in the information, communication and technology (ICT), education and coding sector.

“UN Women, which is grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; the empowerment of women; and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security,” he stressed.

Madide further conveyed that having such training will be of great value to him in acquiring more skills and knowledge in coding and ICT and being able to support national coding camps in South Africa.

“DUT at large through VarsityGenie will benefit through this programme as our mandate is that the learners must be co-creators of knowledge, this will therefore assist in addressing gender inequity in the ICT Sector to upskill female students and also nurture their coding skills by facilitating training sessions to teach about technology. DUT is ascending towards accomplishing its well thought-out course of action, ENVISION2030, and the work ahead is extremely enormous and DUT needs its local area to accomplish. As an individual from the DUT community, I’m consistently endeavouring to contribute,” he said.

For Madide, his main aim to achieve upon doing this training is to close the gender gap in the tech world, and overall, the gender digital divide.

“To visit high schools to facilitate training sessions that will assist learners to adapt into the tech world and further their studies in the ICT sector. Train students to acquire skills, confidence, and problem-solving skills to tackle barriers, overcome gender stereotypes and challenge institutional cultural practices and social norms that keep them away from tech jobs and from pursuing higher education,” he said.

Madide expressed that it is crucial for students in IT to be part of such initiatives which helps in building a strong profile which catalyses their chances of getting employed.

“These initiatives can improve the nature of education in more ways than one: by expanding student motivation and commitment, working with the acquisition of basic skills, and assist in gaining more skills and experience,” he added.

His advice to students who wish to study ICT is that it is an excellent choice, since technology is a wide field with a huge variety of career choices.

“According to AGCCI, research has shown that 90% of future jobs will require ICT skills and about two million new jobs will be created in the computer, mathematical, architecture and engineering fields. Therefore, it is important that students develop the ICT skills needed and learn how to code to be part of the fastest growing sectors, and thrive in the future job market,” he said.

Besides this amazing achievement, Madide has other goals to attain which is to empower as many people he can through technology, introduce the concepts areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Internet of Things.

“Collaborate with Industry giants in tech to upskill people from my community and expose them to the vast knowledge and opportunities that are out there,” he explained.

For Madide, closing this digital gender gap requires a seismic upskilling and empowerment approach.

“Initiatives that are focused on growing digital economy participation and supporting the development of relevant content, applications, and services by and for women should be prioritised. This programme will train young girls to become programmers, creators and designers, placing them on track to take up education and careers in ICT and coding. Not only will the training equip young girls with ICT skills, it will also act as a tool to empower them to unlock Africa’s development potential across various sectors,” he replied.

Pictured: Siyabonga Melusi Madide

Waheeda Peters

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