In Kenya STEM participation shows a clear gender disparity ranging from 30%-35%. We are changing that!
What inspired you to start Techlens?
The low number of girls who enrol for STEM courses at the universities is what inspired me to start TechLens. For instance, did you know that only 35% of students from public schools pursue careers in technology? These low numbers are as a result of lack of mentor-ship, career awareness and basic IT skills due to high costs of computer studies. These stats have led to missed career opportunities and untapped innovative potential for community solutions.
How exactly is Techlens changing the current statistics?
Techlens is a mobile (movable) tech-school that aims at promoting active and integrative learning through technology. We target public school-going students from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide them with training on basic IT skills and a mentor-ship program to enable the students to do well both academically and spark their interest to pursue careers in technology. Our goal is to bridge the digital and technology divide and create equal opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Currently, we are supporting students in Mombasa to access our programs at a subsidised fee of Kshs 1500. The program is available at the comfort of their schools enabling them to even get support from their teachers.
Why focus only on public schools?
That’s because public schools are more disadvantaged in terms of resources compared to the private schools. While doing my research, I found that only 12.5% of the schools after the introduction of computer studies as a subject go ahead and implemented the subject’s curriculum. This is often due to inadequate funds to procure computers, their accessories and setup infrastructures such as computer laboratories, lack of trained teachers and inadequate revision materials.
How long have you been in operation and how many girls have you inspired so far?
We began operations in November 2018. TechLens was a prototype for 8 months before we joined a program called LEAP² Swahili-tech: Women Innovation Challenge. We received funds amounting to Kshs. 400,000. These funds enabled us to offer our programs at a subsidised fee of Kshs 1500 and buy laptops and other necessary equipment. This has made it easier for us to be actively mobile and we have been able to reach more students. So far we are mentoring students from a school in Mombasa called Sacred Heart primary school, we teach students from class 5 basic computer skills. We are also mentoring 10 other girls.
Where do you see Techlens in the next 5 years?
My vision for TechLens is to work with as many schools in the coastal region, both private and public to enable them offer computer as a curriculum.
What message would you like to send out to these young girls?
That there are so many opportunities out there in STEM and anyone can succeed. So do not be shy to pursue a technical course.