Bolivia can be proud of being one of the Latin American countries with the lowest youth unemployment rate. Only 5.2% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 were unemployed in 2014, according to data from the World Bank, while the global average was 14%. However, many of these young people have had to start working at very young ages in order to avoid poverty, which in many cases limits them to precarious and unqualified employment. Daniella García knew that this had to change, so she began to teach programming to young boys and girls, who tomorrow could become the developers of future technologies.
After organizing a series of free workshops which sowed the seed of innovation in the young attendees, in January of 2016 García opened Elemental´s first offices. Elemental is a school for programming, robotics and other topics based on technology and aimed at young people. Thanks to this initiative, García has been recognized as one of MIT Technology Review, Spanish Edition´s Innovators Under 35 Paraguay and Bolivia 2016.
Elemental aims for young people to not only consume technology but also create it. García explains: "We have to prepare students for the future. Most jobs involve technology. Without it, they will not have the necessary competitive skills to form part of the workforce."
Even many young people enrolled in university level systems engineering courses ended up dropping out due to the difficulty of the programming courses. "The problem was not the universities but rather the need to teach children programming earlier in their schooling so that at university they can pass the programming courses more easily," she recalls.
Elemental´s methodology is fundamentally hands-on, with activities and dynamic game-style exercises which entertain students while educating them. After completing each course, the participants in programming, robotics, videogame, 3D modelling and mobile applications workshops must give a presentation of their project in the form of an elevator pitch in order to improve their interpersonal skills. During the upcoming months, Elemental´s offering will be expanded to include courses directed at young people and adults to facilitate their entry into the industry.
"With over 100 students in the program who contract specific studies, a business plan and another sustainability plan in development through associations with schools, Elemental has obtained clear results," according to the IT systems researcher, coordinator of the CyberDemocracy Studies and Innovation Center (CiberDem) at the Federal State University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and jury member for the Innovators Under 35 Paraguay and Bolivia 2016 awards, Renata Araujo.
Discover all of the winning projects from Innovadores menores de 35 Paraguay y Bolivia 2016.