Deborah Tesi, 15, walks about 30 minutes every weekday to Cyinzovu Secondary School, a 12 Year Basic Education school located in Kayonza district in eastern Rwanda, where she studies in senior 3. Last born in a family of four girls, Tesi plans to study Computer Systems or Software Development when she completes senior 3 despite some discouragement based on prejudices against girls in science and ICT. The SCRATC2H 2050 project of VVOB-education for development, supported by Enabel’s Wehubit programme, contributes to develop youth’s creative minds and encourages young people like Tesi to achieve their goals. 

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Tesi focusing during biology class in Cyinzovu Secondary School, eastern Rwanda (© VVOB Rwanda)

Motivation to ICT 

When Tesi hears about people who developed social media applications such as Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, Snap Chat…she feels inspired to learn more about computer technology to develop computer applications in the future.

“I don’t know yet which software I will create, but when I get advanced knowledge in computer science, I know I will eventually create computer applications, and this is my dream.”   

Home technician  

At home Tesi is known as the ‘phone technician’. She has limited access to computers at school, and she doesn’t have one at home. She has only a basic knowledge of computers. Tesi sometimes uses her father’s smart phone since she does not have her own. But surprisingly, whenever there is an issue with her father’s smart phone, she is there to fix it.

“One time a screen of my father’s phone turned into black and he asked my elder sister to help remove it, but she failed. I asked my father if I could try to solve the issue, but he hesitated as he had no hope that I could find a solution! I searched ‘how to fix black screen issue’ on Google and followed instructions step by step, until the issue was fixed in the end. Everyone was surprised!” Tesi said.  

When schools closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, her teachers would send exercises via WhatsApp groups to her father’s smart phone, so Tesi could access them. After doing exercises she could also explore more applications on the smartphone.

“I always want to discover more—so I take advantage of every opportunity that arises to improve my ICT skills.” 

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Class of Cyinzovu Secondary School, eastern Rwanda(© VVOB Rwanda)

Facing prejudice against girls in ICT  

Tesi has noticed that there are more boys in science and ICT than girls.

“I once heard on radio about a group of eight university students who attended an ICT workshop in China with only one girl among them! I was really shocked. I also got embarrassed another day when a university graduate at my village discouraged me to study computer science—he told me that it is difficult for me. But he never says this to boys! Some people think that girls are created for easy jobs such as working in hotels as waitresses, tourism…while boys do ‘difficult’ jobs and therefore should study ‘difficult’ subjects, but I don’t agree with such misconceptions.”  Tesi said.  

Family support encourages  

Tesi’s sisters always encourage her to study computer science. 

“They also tell my father that I should choose ICT/computer science subjects in senior 4. This is already a good indicator and assurance that I will get support from them when the time comes. I hope my father will buy me a computer to help me learn better.”

Introduction to coding  

Tesi was invited to the SCRATC2H 2050 project launch on 30th October 2020, organised by VVOB-education for development in partnership with Rwanda Education Board, Rwanda Polytechnic and Rwanda Coding Academy, a project supported by the Wehubit programme of Enabel. This is when she heard about coding.

“I learned that with Scratch you can create games, stories and animations. We were also informed about scratch coding clubs to start in schools, where we will learn more about coding. I am excited that this is also coming to my school, I cannot wait to see these clubs starting. I have always wondered how games such as fighting games are created. When coding clubs start, I will immediately join since it is much related to my aspiration and passion. I believe that once you have mastered coding and software development you can easily get a job or create your own, as technology grows so fast and is used in all fields.” 

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Tesi listening to the teacher during the biology class in Cyinzovu Secondary School, eastern Rwanda (© VVOB Rwanda)