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By 29 March 2019 | Categories: news

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Furthering its commitment to driving education in South Africa, Microsoft has partnered with AI in Townships to realise the DigiGirlz initiative. The latter aims to help talented youth reach their full potential and become the leaders of tomorrow by equipping them with critical skills in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

As part of a nationwide initiative, the AI in Townships initiative is aimed at enabling girls aged 15 to 18 years old in previously disadvantaged communities to create purposeful, high impact solutions that tackle challenges ranging from community safety to unemployment and education. These girls-only bootcamps attempt to address the systematic exclusion of youth in a variety of 21st century careers by offering a powerful platform to acquire new tools and knowledge, bettering their prospects at female digital inclusion and subsequently, socio-economic forecast.

DigiGirlz, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, gives middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. The initiative aims to transform the future workforce and level the playing field for girls.

“We are proud to be involved with such an initiative that aims to harness the STEM skills young girls need to become problem solvers and build successful careers in these fields,” commented Lillian Barnard, the managing director of Microsoft South Africa.

“The AI revolution has begun in Africa, and it’s going to empower and enable us to do more than ever before. Approximately 80% of jobs created in the next ten years will require a blend of science, technology, engineering and maths, but right now only about 30 percent of the science and technology workforce in Africa is comprised of women – indicating a massive gap that urgently needs to be addressed,” she continued.

To date, Microsoft has trained approximately 100,000 teachers (reaching approximately 5 million learners) with digital literacy skills, but more importantly how to leverage this knowledge to teach critical skills for the modern workplace, including creativity, collaboration and coding.

Microsoft asserted that the possibilities that AI promises to bring in education specifically are exciting, and reiterated its commitment to “empowering students to achieve their best” by working closely with schools throughout the entire transformation journey – from research and planning to creating tailored solutions and implementing the technology.

The company asserted that as the world moves into the digital era it is imperative that South Africa equips its citizens with the necessary skills that will allow them to become more self-reliant, more socially cohesive, and better trained in addressing the fundamental issues of education, health and safety through AI.

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