27 May A 12-Year-Old Orbits Cyberspace
“I know it’s a lot for a child like me”
Northport, N.Y. – May 27, 2021
One of tech’s most promising experts is a 12-year-old girl from Nigeria.
Emma Mayaki is a true coding and programming prodigy who’s been at it since she was eight years old.
Growing up, “Emma always doted on technological devices,” says her father, Prince John Mayaki. “At first, I attributed it to nothing more than childlike curiosity, but I soon realized we had a genius on our hands.”
It wasn’t long before Emma’s desire to learn more about technology outweighed her interest in anything else. The Edo State native moved to Lagos State, enrolling in a specialized computer school for adults — where, despite her youth, she had no problem fitting in.
“I was able to cope with the adults. They actually called me ‘professor,’” Emma told us.
Little did she know the title would stick. Emma’s computer proficiency ultimately got her a job as an after-school coding teacher at Southfields Primary School in Coventry, England — where, at the time, she was registered as a student.
“It still baffles me,” Emma admits, reflecting on her transition from student to teacher. But instead of succumbing to the pressure, the young tech genius embraced her new role by starting an online coding school, Emma’s ICT Academy, for kids in Nigeria.
Even though technology is an advantageous career path, too many African parents push their children towards medicine, law, and engineering. Emma’s on a mission to add technology to that list. In fact, her success has already “challenged a lot of negative stereotypes,” says the elder Mayaki.
“It’s been wonderful to see Emma inspire other parents to support the development of their own children in technology,” he adds.
Technology is an explosive field. Just cybersecurity alone has as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions globally in 2021. But to enter the field, kids have to learn the basics — which is easier said than done in developing regions such as Africa. Last year, UNICEF reported that just 5 percent of young people in West and Central Africa had internet access at home, compared to 33 percent worldwide.
Further, it’s especially difficult for girls to break into cyberspace because of its long-standing reputation as a boys club. However, by sharing Emma’s story, “we show what is possible with the right tutelage and guidance,” Prince Mayaki said.
So, what are Emma’s plans for the future? The young girl has big dreams; she wants to orbit everything cyberspace has to offer — machine learning, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and more.
“I know it’s a lot for a child like me — a 12-year-old girl,” quips Emma, but she remains steadfastly self-assured. “I can do it.” Knowing Emma, we’d expect nothing less.
– Amanda Glassner is a staff writer and reporter at Cybercrime Magazine.