How Traditional Indigenous Games are helping Indigenous youth to excel in technology

I had an ambitious idea to help teach Indigenous youth to code in 2017 without any funding or support, and after running our first program over a year ago, I've starting building some new programs on MIT Scratch to teach Indigenous youth how to code by building Tradition Indigenous Games. The first game I built is called kolap, which is a traditional game played in the Torres Strait.

What is kolap?

The game Kolap (or Kulap) is a traditional game that is played throughout the Islands in the Torres Strait among the young and old. The kulap seed is actually known as a matchbox bean or QLD Bean in Far North QLD but in the Torres Straits, they are called Kulaps. This game is based on using the natural resources available to Torres Strait Islanders whilst having fun and keeping everyone entertained. Early Childhood Inclusion specialist, Cecelia Wright suggest using bean bags when re-creating this game to play with children as an interactive activity.  

Why is it important?

Around 75 per cent of jobs in the future will need STEM skills, but coding is still not a formalised part of the curriculum in most parts of the education system. Teaching kids coding is the first step in helping them get ready for jobs of the future - and make sure Indigenous students don't get left behind. Teaching Indigenous youth about coding so they understand how computers work and the best ways to interact with them is how we can stop the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians from increasing.

According to a recent study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than half (53 per cent) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were aged under 25 years in 2016. Also, Indigenous unemployment is a national crisis at 21 per cent, an increase of 4.3 percentage points since 2008, and is 4 times the current non-Indigenous unemployment rate of 5 per cent.

However, Australia's digital economy is projected to be worth $139 billion a year by 2020 that can provide business or employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians, but its growth is inhibited by a skills shortage, according to the most recent study from Deloitte Access Economics and The Australian Computer Society. Also, the average weekly full-time earnings before tax for Software and Applications Programmers in 2014 was $1,613 while the average earnings for all occupations were $1,200.

How can you support us?

Read more about what we're doing and the future we're building to create a better Australia for everyone! If you would like to support Barayamal and our programs, please contact me via email d.foley@barayamal.com or call 0458 980 232.

If you know of an awesome school or community organisation like Capalaba State Collegewho we can work with to teach more Indigenous youth how to code (or entrepreneurship), please let me know!

We're also running the first ever Indigenous Game Jam in November for those who would like to support us by creating some more games to teach Indigenous youth how to code 💻🎮