A UK charity set up to teach IT skills to girls vulnerable to trafficking and slavery has launched its first project at Hope for Justice’s Shine Career School in Cambodia.
Project Girl Code, a non-profit organisation, is providing free IT training to give these young women the chance of going into higher paid jobs.
Shine Career School, which is part of Hope for Justice’s rehabilitation programme in Cambodia for teenagers rescued from sex trafficking, hosted the launch.
The 40 students, including young people from charity Destiny Rescue, are now receiving six hours a week of training in digital literacy and coding skills. The lessons are being held at Shine and will continue for three months. They are being led by qualified teachers from computer training school Passerelles Numeriques Cambodia (PNC).
Esty Marcu, who co-founded Project Girl Code with her friend Lindy Howard, said: “It’s about providing these girls the opportunity to be part of the digital economy. We start by teaching the girls basic computing skills and move on to advanced coding and programming, and those who show interest and aptitude can pursue the internationally-recognised Cisco certifications.
“The programme we provide can last up to two years. People with these qualifications can earn double the average wage in Cambodia, as there’s a shortage of people with these skills.”
Srey Ka*, a Shine school student, said: “If we learn more, we know more. I’m excited about learning more about computers. And it’s good to be with students from other places because we can help teach each other.”
At the launch event, the girls also listened to a talk by inspirational guest speaker Ung Reachny, a former PNC student who now owns her own software development company. They shared cake made to celebrate the launch.
Andrea Bailey, career and education director at Hope for Justice in Cambodia (pictured, right), said: “It is an exciting time for the students at Shine. Although a lot of the students have knowledge of computers, Project Girl Code provides opportunity into the world of technology.
“At Hope for Justice Cambodia, we are continuously looking to diversify experiences and opportunities for the students. As our world changes, we want them to have relevant skills to succeed in the future.”
Karissa Decotiis, career programme co-ordinator at Destiny Rescue, said she thought the girls were excited about doing the course but also nervous.
She added: “I think it’s difficult to get some of them to commit to something long-term. But I think it will open up more doors for them as it is something they can use in any vocation they pursue.”
Story by Aly Walsh
*Name changed to protect survivor’s identity