How girls are beating the IT gap in Burundi | BBC Great Lakes

Natacha Nduwimana is on a mission to get girls in Burundi interested in computers.

She runs BiHub, an organisation that promotes equal access to digital skills, which has trained more than 10,000 girls on coding and creating apps since 2017.

Much of the training is done for government secondary schools, where she says girls often tend to be insecure and less confident than boys.

“The girls we see are intimidated; secondly they didn’t get the chance to access computers from a young age,” Ms Nduwimana told the BBC.

Computer skills are only introduced on the national curriculum in the second year at high school.

At private primary schools, on the other hand, computers are part of the norm so girls gain confidence at an early age – leaving them on a more equal footing as they get older.

For Ms Nduwimana even skills such as coding should be taught from a young age – and she want the government to include it on the school curriculum.

“Coding is the language of the future,” she says.

Her determination is borne out by 22-year-old Noëlla Tuyishimire, who is studying computer science at Bujumbura International University.

She attended some BiHub workshops when she was at a government high school in Bujumbura – Burundi’s main city – and came first in their #eSkills4Girls competition at the age of 19.

“The first thing BiHub did for me was that it made me feel confident because in the past I was afraid when in public,” she told the BBC.

But such was the boost her new-found skills gave her that she changed her focus from studying economics to IT when she left secondary school.

Ms Tuyishimire says families tend to discourage girls who want to pursue IT, telling them it is a male industry.

The undergraduate now volunteers at BiHub to try and pass on her love to other girls.

“We, just like boys, are able to perform in the new technologies too. And I want to be a role model to others,” she says.

Source : BBC News-Burundi

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