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Empowering marginalised communities in South Africa to promote and enable 4iR technology transformation

About us

The 4iR Film Robotic Technology Program was commenced in 2017 by Mary-Ann Mandishona via her companies Matriarch Films and African WAY (Women And Youth) Foundation. Mary-Ann conceptualised an exciting interactive, unique, innovative practical bootcamp to teach ‘marginalised’ young girls from township and rural communities 4iR Technology in an effort to address the gender and societal digital divide.

Over the past decade technology has become a driving force in the lives of people across the world. More than five billion people have access to smart phones so children are growing up in a world where social media, mobile technology and online communities are fundamental to the way they communicate, learn and develop. 

Young people are natural adopters of new technologies, they can use digital media as a force for innovation, invention and change to improve our world. So our mission is to encourage girls to pursue computing and technology within the IT tech, film and media sector with an aim to promote diversity in this ever growing field. We focus on skills training, networking, mentorship, learnership programs, job placement and entrepreneurship development.

African WAY Foundation advocates for gender parity and racial inclusion by teaching iMovie filmmaking, scriptwriting and editing to ensure that children from townships are skilled enough for the jobs of tomorrow.

Unfortunately South Africa is behind, our township communities have been marginalised from the 4th Industrial Revolution, furthermore girls and women continue to fall behind due to various factors including gender discrimination and lack of STEAM participation in public schools. Currently there is a substantial shortage of technology, science and engineering in South Africa, furthermore specialised AI technologies are usually adopted and capitalised by ‘privileged white males’ hailing from rich, private schools.

Our 4iR Film Robotic Technology Program is a platform for female youth from previously disadvantaged communities to apply 4th Industrial Revolution critical thinking to create innovative solutions using Artificial Intelligence. The girls in Soweto and Alexandra township are amongst the poorest of a marginalized ethnic minority group who have less access to resources to fall back on. Furthermore girls are the first to drop out of school if they become pregnant or to help their families secure resources, compared to boys. We precipitate transformative education to empower marginalised ‘girl children’ to access ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities in a ‘white male’ dominated industry by providing 4iR training to township girls in the form of coding, drone piloting and filmmaking which exposes them to unlimited tech opportunities and future STEAM job security

Our Impact



Drone Piloting workshops provide our Soweto, Alexandra, Katlehong, Lenasia and Thembisa learners aged 10-18 years (mostly female) the tools necessary to effectively utilise drones. Our workshops take place at the Soweto incubator labs and the 155 West Training Centre, delivered by a team of iSchool Africa experts who have extensive knowledge in their IT fields.


Our learners develop technical drone skills and computer coding language skills enabling a higher capacity for STEM comprehension. These critical skills increase opportunities for 4iR future job security. These classes enhance orientation skills, motor skills and provide students with a better understanding of surveying, disaster relief services and mapping.


Pitching, Scriptwriting and Directing workshops provide our learners aged 10-18 years (mostly female) from Soweto, Thembisa , Katlehong, Lenasia and Alexandra townships the understanding necessary to write, pitch and direct their stories on iPads with iMovie software. The workshops take place at Soweto incubator labs, delivered by teams of Award winning Film Producers, Directors and Actors who have extensive knowledge in the Film and TV space.


Our learners gain a significant increase in writing, directing and producing knowledge which increases their capacity to present their concepts and creative ideas effectively. Other benefits include confidence boosting and networking. These skills increase opportunities in the film industry for future job security


Post Production Editing and SFX workshops provide our marginalised learners aged 10-18 years (mostly female) the post editing skills necessary to edit their short films with SFX on a basic entry level delivered by a team of post production experts who have extensive knowledge in film industry.


Our learners aged 10-18 years complete ‘entry level’ training in editing and SFX comprehension increasing their editing skills ability within the film post production field. Other benefits include practical hands on training and networking. These skills increase opportunities for future job security.


The SWIFT Artificial Intelligence workshops provide our African marginalised learners aged 10-18 years (mostly female) with highly specialised AI coding abilities to code and formulate actual 4iR STEM projects.

Our Soweto, Alexandra, Thembisa, Lenasia and Katlehong Township learners aged 10-18 years complete ‘entry level’ training in AI SWIFT Coding with effective technology comprehension increasing their dynamic spatial skills ability.

  1. Higher Capacity for Visual Attention
  2. Promotes School Readiness and Cognitive Development
  3. Increases Motivation to Complete Tasks
  4. Develops Dynamic Spatial Skills
  5. Develops Problem Solving Skills
  6. Better Hand-eye Coordination
  7. Improves Language Skills
  8. Develops technical Skills and creative Talents
  9. Expands Horizons relating to IQ

The aim of the activities is to teach students the fundamental computer science terms such as algorithm, programme, event, debug, binary, abstraction & loops, all while encouraging them to become creators instead of consumers of technology. Building on these tools, mathematical and design skills are put to work when coding is applied to programming robotic toys.




Swift is a powerful and intuitive programming language created by Apple for building apps. It makes programming easier, more flexible, and more fun. Swift is not only great for getting started with coding, it’s also super powerful. It’s designed to scale from writing the simplest program, like “Hello, world!” to the world’s most advanced software. In the introduction to coding session, we will take students thought the following fundamental coding concepts:

  • Commands & Sequences
  • Debugging
  • Functions



Robotics forms an integral part of learning how to code and is a fun and effective introduction into understanding block based coding. This introductory session will teach students basic block based code to program the Sphero through a selection of challenges that bring real learning to life through activities like Sphero Maze, word search and battleships.

The curriculum we teach teachers students basic coding commands, how to maximise all the features
within the Sphero Robot right up to coding with variables.

  • Session 1: Introduction to block based code & loops
  • Session 2: Using If/Then, Else statements
  • Session 3: Using Lights
  • Session 4: Variables



Applying SWIFT coding skills, students learn to manoeuvre the drone to take-off, land and move in different directions. They also learn about co-ordinates to use them to fly straightor navigate curved lines. Our workshops enable our African girls to break the barrier to enter the Western male dominated industry of drone piloting.

4iR Drone Piloting Careers:

  1. Drone Photographer and Filmmaker
  2. Precision Agriculture Surveyor
  3. Drone 3D Modeler
  4. Power Line Inspector
  5. Solar Rooftop Inspector
  6. Search and Rescue Officer
  7. Drone flight Instructor
  8. Precision Mining Surveyor
  9. Disaster Relief Services
  10. Wildlife Conservation Surveyor
  11. Urban Planning and Water Reticulation Mapping



Our expert ‘iSchool Africa’ Teachers and Film Industry Mentors (Award Winning Film Directors, Writers, Producers and Editors) teach our learners the following:

iMovie allows students to create engaging and informative movies that tell stories. Students learn to create movies that include titles, music and effects with videos and photo taken from the iPad. The iMovie
Academy will not only focus on the production aspect of filming but will also take students through preproduction aspects such as scriptwriting and storyboarding, post production and editing, Using iMovie on the iPad students will learn how to:

  • Create a movie project
  • Import and edit photos and video clips within iMovie
  • Work with themes
  • Add and adjust audio
  • Work with themes by adding music, sound and special effects
  • Add and edit movie titles
  • Successfully export a movie

According to research the most important 21st century skills include the following skills which are either directly or indirectly linked to coding and robotics.

Our Progress






Orange Farm

Rural Area





Our Partners

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