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It’s time to diversify the tech scene…

Anisah Osman Britton is challenging the concept that the tech industry is a man’s world. Since completing the IB Diploma Programme (DP) at Bilborough College, in Nottingham, UK, Anisah founded 23 Code Street – a coding school for women in the UK, where every paying student will fund a lesson for a disadvantaged student in the slums of Mumbai, India. The school, which is based in London, gives students the foundation that they need to become developers. While in India, it is working closely with a Mumbai-based non-profit, which concentrates on women’s health, to plan classes in the


city from September 2018. 23 Code Street will focus on digital skills, which will provide the necessary skills to help women get data entry jobs and regain independence. In the future, 23 Code Street will also teach coding. Looking back, Anisah always thought she would go to university after school, as this seemed a natural pathway.

“I don’t think I had really considered anything else apart from going to university,” she says. “But the IB made me realize that university wasn’t my only option.  “The open-minded way of approaching education and the way you are encouraged to question everything you know, made me realize that I had other options open to me and that, actually, I had the skills and confidence to go down another route”.

Lack of women in tech

Anisah realized that she wanted to start her own company, and after graduating from Bilborough College, she interned in businesses around the world to gain an understanding of what was needed to start and grow a company.

“I didn’t have any knowledge of technology. But, as I fell into the tech industry, I realized how valuable it would have been to have had some of these skills at college, and have had conversations around the impact of technology, the lack of women in the industry and the change we could have been part of”.

Five years ago, when Anisah was working at The Bakery – a company that pairs brands with tech startups – she realized that the tech industry was male-dominated. Nine out of 10 people she worked with were men. “I heard views I disagreed with, I found people patronizing towards women who didn’t have technical skills, or, more importantly, who didn’t have tech jargon as part of their vocabulary. I saw that we worked with a majority of startups, which were led by men, and the female-founded companies had to prove themselves that little bit more.

“I saw men in Third World countries, especially the rising working class, who had doors opening for them because technology was accessible to them. And I saw products and services that seemed to forget that women existed”.

For example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on it for women.

“23 Code Street was born out of a need to give women the skills to build the future, to be part of the conversation and to diversify the tech scene”, says Anisah.

She started pushing for more women on teams at The Bakery, and over time the gender split improved from 20 per cent female, to 40 per cent. Tom Salmon, founder of The Bakery, realized the value women bring to the industry and invested in Anisah’s idea of a coding school for females.

“We need women who are marginalized and often forgotten in certain societies to have the tools and knowledge to be able to even imagine a change they could create”, explains Anisah.

She credits the DP for the success of 23 Code Street, as it challenged her in ways that she’ll never forget. “The DP taught me how to ask for help and to be grateful for that help, and how to be a team player. I hire smarter people than me and don’t feel threatened. I challenge people to be better than me in my own company. I go to employees for advice”, says Anisah.

“The IB also taught me to be proud of being a feminist. Nobody had labelled me that in a positive way before. I came to understand feminism meant the fight to be equal. I debated history, literature and science, to understand the role (or lack of) of women in the world. The day I graduated, my English teacher gave us all a book as a parting gift. I was given A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792), written by Mary Wollstonecraft. I read it and realized how far we’d come but also, how far we had to go”.

Expanding into Europe

To date, Anisah has won four awards and has been nominated for ‘We are Tech Women finalist 2017’ and ‘Forbes 30 under 30 nominee 2017’. In addition, many London students have successfully completed the course and gone on to work in the tech industry. But, it’s just the beginning for Anisah and 23 Code Street. She wants to create more courses in the UK and expand to other cities in Europe. “We are also bringing the courses online”, she says.

“In India, we want to create a sustainable model where our alumni begin training our new students. If we were to ever close, which is not the plan(!), we want to have left the infrastructure for the community”.

See the original article here

A low-performing US high school has shown exceptional improvement in teaching and learning following the introduction of the I.B. Diploma Programme

I usually don’t celebrate schools that fail to make my annual list of America’s Most Challenging High Schools. But a week before the 2017 rankings will appear in The Washington Post, a low-performing high school in the District has shown such exceptional improvement in teaching and learning it deserves special attention. Eastern High School, east of Capitol Hill at 1700 East Capitol St. NE, got plenty of notice for its new building in 2010, the result of a $77 million renovation. School modernizations usually don’t change academic performance, so I ignored it. During the 20 years I have been collecting data on high schools in the Washington area and nationally, Eastern has had one of the worst records. Few students participated in its Advanced Placement program, and those that did almost always failed the college-level exams. This year, however, D.C. Public Schools sent me a startling number from Eastern. In 2013, the school had begun an International Baccalaureate program preparing students for college-level exams even more challenging than those given by AP. Both AP and IB exams are written and graded by outside experts. In 2016, the D.C. information said, Eastern gave 62 IB exams, and 42 percent of them received passing scores of four or above on the seven-point tests. I checked to make sure that was not a misprint. I cannot remember another instance in which an urban public school like Eastern, where just about all students are from low-income families, achieved such gains.


Even more important than the scores on IB’s three- to five-hour exams, requiring long written answers, was the system the school created to help students read, write and think at a depth rarely encountered in such impoverished circumstances. Kate Ireland, director of global education in the D.C. Public Schools’ Office of Teaching and Learning, and Sah Brown, Eastern’s principal, described for me in a long email how they strengthened their students’ writing and thinking. The school district established IB-designed programs in three elementary and two middle schools. Eastern High educators spread word of the program to families of children headed for the school. They created the Accelerated Cohort at Eastern (ACE) for ninth- and 10th- graders who had shown “motivation and habits of mind to meet above-grade level academic standards,” Ireland and Brown said. The ACE students those first two years take courses that demand more writing and conceptual learning than most D.C. students are used to. Just before the ACE students’ junior year when they begin taking IB courses, they attend a summer boot camp to get ready. Eastern offers IB courses in language and literature, history, math studies, Spanish, visual arts, biology and theory of knowledge. Writing is woven into the program. Assessments in IB courses are based on “a mix of timed and untimed essays, research papers, projects, experiments, question sets and presentations,” Ireland and Brown said. “This enables us as teachers to build students’ writing abilities little by little and utilize the entire two years of the course to maximize student growth.” Teachers stay for an after-school “Power Hour” to help students tackle difficult points. Such careful preparation, and the funds that support it, would be useful to other D.C. schools trying to raise achievement levels in AP. Here is one sign of the value of IB. Parents in Montgomery County may spend as much as $864 for registration and exams for each child in the toughest IB track. The cost to IB families at Eastern is zero. AP students at Eastern are also doing better. Their passing rate on the AP exams was 11 percent, way above the school average for the prior 20 years. If Eastern gives a couple of dozen more AP and IB exams next year, it will make The Post’s list. That is a nice recognition, but not nearly as useful as the reading, writing and thinking skills its students will take with them to college. Read the entire article here