Rovio has collaborated with UNICEF Finland since 2019 to support education, adolescents and gender equality. As part of the collaboration, Rovio supported UNICEF’s Salmaïtou Senegal project in the poor Kolda region of Senegal.
The Salmaïtou project aimed to give a second chance to 100 of the most vulnerable girls in and out of school, by helping them acquire skills in digital technologies, innovation and social entrepreneurship. The plan was to increase the self-confidence of these girls, while giving them the knowledge and transferable skills that will enable them to access professional opportunities, either through self-employment or as employees in the public or private sectors.
The project consisted of two training camps with mentoring and networking as follow-up phases. The 100 girls were divided in two groups of 50, consisting of 25 girls aged 10-14 and 25 girls aged 15-18. The first group started their training camp in March 2021 and continued with the follow-up phase in June-August. The second group of 50 girls had their training camp in November 2021 with the follow-up phase starting in December 2021.
During the training camps the girls attended sessions tailored to their age group. The girls aged 10-14 learned for example using SCRATCH to understand video game design, and assembly and programming of robots. The girls aged 15-18 learned for example website design with WIX and mobile application design with MIT App Inventor.
The follow-up phases included a robotics workshop and a social entrepreneurship workshop. In addition, the older age group (15-18) were supported to design and implement their own social projects within their communities. The best three of these projects received seed funds: a project to produce and commercialise soap from recycled products, a market gardening project, and a poultry farm.
The overall objective of the Salmaïtou project was that by the end of 2021, 100 adolescent girls have been trained and empowered through technology, social entrepreneurship and innovation in the Southern region of Kolda. The training camps and mentoring enabled the girls to develop their capacities in solving problems by creating a team spirit; discover digital tools and develop their digital skills; and become familiar with algorithms and the concept of computer coding with blocks.
Before each training camp the girls took a self-assessment to estimate their level of comfort with using technology and their self-confidence. Before the first camp, only two girls said they were able to use technology well, and 54% of the girls identified themselves as lacking in confidence. The same assessments after the camp showed a marked improvement in self-confidence (74% felt very confident), as well as greater ease with using digital devices. Check out Coumba’s interview below to find out more about her learning experiences during the Salmaïtou project:
All in all, the results of the project are very positive, and we’re excited about what these talented girls will achieve. Rovio will continue working on a more equal and well-educated world – our collaboration with UNICEF Finland continues, with our efforts currently focusing on Sierra Leone. More news about that to follow in the near future, so stay tuned!