The education industry has been revolutionised.
Revolutionised from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – from online lectures instead of in-person lessons, to completing assignments on computer applications instead of pen and paper – technology has become integral in every student’s education journey.
However, this unfortunately stands true for only one third of the world’s school-age children. In 2020, the UNICEF-ITU report stated that 1.3 billion school children between 3 and 17 years old did not have internet connection in their homes to support online lessons during the pandemic. This has impaired their understanding of their school curriculum. This is a severe issue as universal high-quality education is paramount in children’s success. For children to successfully go on to study at universities, they must have a complete understanding of the subjects they have studied at primary and secondary school. Hence, they can build on a solid foundation to pursue their personal career goals and improve not only their livelihood, but also those of their immediate families.
However, having a good understanding of Mathematics, English – all these traditional subjects – may even not be enough to succeed in the increasingly digitalised world. To sustain a high advantage in the increasingly competitive job market, computer skills are crucial for success. However, many children living in remote areas do not have access to any form of computer science education. This is partly derived from the lack of local teaching resources, inadequate facilities and support including the cost of computers and a stable internet connection.
For these children to learn computer science, external help from NGOs is needed for them to succeed. This is exactly the reason why I decided to found Discimus Foundation, a youth-led non-profit organisation offering computers and a computer science curriculum to children in rural areas, with previously zero access to such courses.
Not only do we have the focus on advancing universal education, but we also uphold the goal of attaining gender equality, especially in the tech industry. In this subject area, women consist of only 19% of the tech workforce and the gender bias has prevailed for several years now. Therefore, much support relating to computer science education is needed to empower women and girls to overcome this gender disparity and thrive in the so far male-dominated industry.
The reasons for this are apparent. The future world is going to evolve around technologies, and anyone who has mastered skills in technology-related areas can avoid being sidelined in the employment market. Once girls have learnt and mastered these skills, they will be able to sustain a competitive advantage and fulfil their dreams of working in the tech industry. In addition, more can join the campaign and advocate in their companies for fair wage levels that solely depend on the quality and productivity of work outputs rather than gender. This drives the movement to create a long-term, sustainable impact to, once and for all, eradicate inequality between genders in this industry.
Discimus Foundation, originally called Tech for Changes Program, was launched in September 2021 to advance the progress of the current worldwide movements fighting for gender equality in the tech industry. Discimus Foundation is a youth-led non-profit organisation providing computers, funding internet connection fees, and above all, teaching computer science lessons to underprivileged children for them to have the opportunity to gain the necessary skills for success in this digitalized world.
“So far, we have set up training schools across Cambodia and certain countries in Africa such as: Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia, and Nigeria. Since its founding, 50+ teachers have conducted 400+ lessons with 6000+ student attendance overall ranging between 10 to 18 years of age.”
However, I recognize that quality education and gender equality are both long-term worthy challenges that cannot be simply completed by individuals, but by changemaker networks worldwide. Although NGOs are providing aid in remote areas of a variety of countries, we still see a huge demand that remains unmet. With Discimus Foundation, I continuously strive to raise awareness among youth to drive our impact and advance quality education and gender equality worldwide. However, far more needs to be done to raise awareness for this matter. Hence, we must unite as one to advocate together for quality education, across all genders, ethnicities, and countries, to give every child a chance to succeed.