Mamas learn coding

The participants in the Mammas4Coding project that offers training for women over the age of 50, and encourages them to train others. Picture: Supplied

The participants in the Mammas4Coding project that offers training for women over the age of 50, and encourages them to train others. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 4, 2023


A year ago, 59-year-old Felicia Abrahams didn’t know what the word coding or 4IR meant.

Now she is one of 100 women who were part of a new project, Mamas4Coding.

The training was provided by Tangible Africa, an engagement project of the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences department and the Leva Foundation, along with the Youth Media Movement.

The aim of the project is to empower the women so that they can start training others.

The Mammas4Coding training for women over the age of 50. Picture: Supplied

Tangible Africa founder and associate professor at the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences department, Jean Greyling, said the women were skilled to train the younger generation.

“The mamas were trained in small groups, and all came together recently. They will now start reaching out to young people in their communities. The target is to reach 10 000 young people,” said Greyling.

The foundation said many of the women, who are all over 50 years of age and live in some of the most crime-ridden areas of the Western Cape, didn’t know much about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) last year.

The mamas pose with Marshall Nelson of Youth Media Movement. Picture: Supplied

Marshall Nelson, the managing director of Youth Media Movement, who also educates the youth on technology such as drone creation, 3D printing and robotics, said coding was important in our everyday lives

“The best way to explain coding, when you look at your television remote, it works like this: if you want to switch on your television, you are sending a code from the remote to the television. If you want to switch the television to another channel, that is a code between the remote and the television,” he explained.

“When you are changing the channel, you are now coding the remote to instruct the television what to do. Coding is all about instructions that needs to be followed. We code ourselves, we just do not know it, before we do something. It is a code that is sent through our system – I am hungry, I am going to eat something. You are coding yourself to say you are hungry and you are coding yourself on what you would like to eat.”

Nelson, who was robbed in Philippi last month during one of his recruitment drives, remains committed to making a difference.

“While it was not a nice experience, we will go back and still offer the training to the community,” he said.

“This way they will learn that robbing will not solve their problems but the skills they will learn can provide new opportunities and hope.”

Greyling thanked the corporate sponsor of Mamas4Coding, Amazon Web Services In Communities: “We thank AWS In Communities for their continued support of Tangible Africa’s efforts to demystify coding and particularly their enthusiasm in reaching these new communities and women.”

George Chirume, Tangible Africa’s regional co-ordinator and trainer in Cape Town, and Nelson are the dynamic team spearheading the Mamas4Coding project.

The power of hope is already visible with the impact the training has had on the women, said Chirume, who is a trained maths teacher.

“The mothers are unemployed and live in areas with a lot of crime, drugs, and unemployment. The coding training is bringing hope to these women and uplifting them into the 21st century.

“They can now go out with confidence as coding facilitators to train the children in their communities,” said Chirume.

Felicia Abrahams from Mitchells Plain is now able to train people in her community thanks to the project and is excited about it.

“For me, I am finding Mammas4Coding to be the game changer. It works if you work with people and now you can train others. We must not be shy to join the project.

“Coding creates skills and creativity and being a motivation to others and to empower yourself, and to me it is a lifetime opportunity. I am busy training my neighbour. She never knew what coding is, now she wants to know more.”

Patricia Damons from Eastridge said, “I didn’t know what counting and puzzles and coding could do. The programme was beautiful and well planned.”

Isabelle Julies from Mitchells Plain added it was a breath of fresh air.

“We are older, we are mamas, but we are not forgotten. This was very exciting training.”

To find out more about Tangible Africa, contact Prof Jean Greyling at [email protected] or Jackson Tshabalala at [email protected]

Weekend Argus

Related Topics:

Basic EducationCoding