Finalist category: Education Award
Education Award, Finalist, 2020
Nishka Mathur is 15 years old and passionate about tech literacy for young people, especially girls, from disadvantaged communities. Over the last two and half years she has designed and delivered around 40 coding workshops, directly interacting with roughly 1000 participants.
When she lived in India, she often visited an orphanage, run by a charity, for abandoned girls. She played with the girls and eventually realised that their mothers, illiterate and unskilled and unable to provide for them, had been forced by their families to abandon them.
Inspired by the charity’s programmes to teach women economically desirable skills, she realised that teaching tech skills to underprivileged girls would give them financial empowerment, social autonomy and better lives.
Nishka started to run inclusive workshops to introduce young people to coding during her holidays and spare time, adapting the content based on the audience. She has worked with girls in schools and orphanages in remote rural areas of India, school girls in deprived parts of London, and physically disabled youth. As well as providing workshops, Nishka has given talks and mentored local young people and helped set up code clubs in order to encourage more girls to embrace coding, technology and STEM.
Nishka says, “Young people, especially girls, feel inspired seeing someone like themselves being comfortable and confident with coding and STEM, and this influences their choices and makes it more accessible to them. I would like to scale my work up and am currently exploring ways to do so. I have had to overcome challenges around poor internet availability, power cuts, intense heat and language barriers when running workshops in India. I have realized that if there is the will to teach and a wish to learn, these barriers are not daunting.”