transforming lives with technology training
Pluralsight has partnered with non-profit organisation the Malala Fund to provide financing and access to its tools to support girls’ education in regions where staying in school is challenging. Berenice Baker finds out more from the company’s chief impact officer Lindsey Kneuven.
Enterprise technology skills company Pluralsight announced its social impact initiative dedicated to closing the IT skill gap, Pluralsight One, in September 2017. The following year, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, and her father, Ziauddin, spoke at the Pluralsight LIVE annual conference.
Through a financial commitment as well as a product grant, Pluralsight One is supporting Malala Fund’s strategy and work across all of the countries the organisation operates in to realise every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, and quality education.
How has Pluralsight One been working with Malala and the Malala Fund since her appearance at Pluralsight Live 2018?
Lindsey Kneuven: We were honoured to have had Malala and her father join us at Pluralsight LIVE last year and it was such a thrill to have her on the main stage to share her inspirational story.
Knowing the fantastic work that the Malala Fund does, we have worked with the team to formalise a multi-year partnership that builds on the shared goals and mission of Pluralsight One and the Fund’s strategy to provide all women and girls with the opportunity for an education.
We paired financial investment with access to our platform and ongoing tech strategy support to empower the Malala Fund team and their network of ambassadors by providing them with the technology skills required to execute their mission. But when you open the aperture a bit more, there is also an opportunity for us to deploy product-based solutions directly in partnership with the young people engaged in Malala Fund’s global programming so that they, too, can develop their tech skills to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
Why are technology skills important to the girls and young women Malala Fund supports?
Technology is so pervasive; it touches us all in so many ways. Whether it’s machine learning or UX design, if a young woman or girl can learn these critical skills, she is empowering herself to create opportunity through technology. These skills expand the platform for girls to advocate for equitable education, to become creators rather than consumers of technology, and to chart a path to dignified employment.
Education and access to employment are basic human rights. We know that computer science is a new literacy and technology touches every industry - so, today technology skills are critical to ensuring enable everyone, everywhere to realise the full power of those inalienable human rights.
We believe that education underpins an individual’s agency and opportunity to have their voice heard. To deprive someone of an education is to stifle their voice. Technology has the power to amplify an individual’s voice, enabling them to participate in an increasingly digital society, harness platforms to tell stories, surface issues and educate the global community.
Education is empowering; it provides individuals with the opportunity to create a better life and a better future for themselves. Through our platform, we hope that women and girls will use technology skills to transform the world around them.
How will Pluralsight One support the network of 40 Gulmakai education champions who challenge the barriers that currently keep girls out of school?
Pluralsight One’s funding will support the growth of the Gulmakai Network by enabling Malala Fund to add additional ambassadors and scale their reach. To ensure that technology supports its work and aids the network’s growth, Pluralsight One is providing full platform access to Malala Fund staff, in-country team members and Gulmakai Champions. It will then provide the counsel and support the Fund needs to develop an effective technology skill development strategy that will, in turn, equip the Gulmakai Champions with the ability to innovate and address challenges with tech-enabled solutions.
But Pluralsight One is more than just assistance and education in technology skill development. It will provide the Malala Fund with access to funds to support its programmes and strategic priorities; this includes overseeing the expansion of its Gulmakai Champions network.
What are the challenges to supplying Pluralsight One’s solutions to developing countries in terms of language, infrastructure, hardware, and so on?
Our pilot programme focused on ensuring equality of opportunity. We have tested Pluralsight’s platform across 16 countries.
One of our deep pilot programmes has been conducted through No Lost Generation Tech Task Force, a coalition focused on combining the expertise of the social and private sectors to apply technology-based solutions to prevent a lost generation of refugee and conflict-affected youth by ensuring they have access to education, protection, wellbeing and opportunity. We have been actively testing Pluralsight’s platform in complex settings across the Middle East for the past year and a half.
As a result of that, we have optimised our language functionality and now have all content translated into 102 languages through subtitling with over 90% accuracy. The platform’s mobile and offline functionality has also enabled stronger access in areas with infrastructure constraints.
We work through partner NGOs that have infrastructure in place through community centres, innovation hubs, etc. to distribute access. We will work through to understand and address these constraints in partnership with Malala Fund and the Gulmakai Champions and continue to iterate on our solutions in response to the constraints we uncover.
What are you most proud of about this relationship?
Malala is a visionary leader; her courage, work and passion for democratising access to education is powerful and her focus rests wholly on empowering others and creating agency. Pluralsight and Malala Fund’s missions overlap and complement one another. We can support an unmet need as they scale their impact and together ensure that every girl can learn and lead.