Digital skills project changes the lives of schoolgirls, their families and their community
Girls' education, Technology and education
To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we showcase Theirworld’s growing Skills for Their Future programme in Tanzania.
When the pandemic shut down schools across the world, it emphasised the digital divide. Young people without access to technology and computer skills – especially girls – were at a huge disadvantage.
At Temeke Secondary School in Tanzania, Jennifer Damson Loti and her fellow students struggled to cope with learning from home during lockdown. She said: “My morale was declining day by day. I watched television programmes that offered revision but I could not ask questions about areas I didn’t understand.”
But when classes reopened, Theirworld’s Skills for Their Future project helped Jennifer to gain the digital and computer knowledge she needs to do well at school and succeed in her future career. Having graduated from the course, she said: “Girls can change their lives and their community with these skills.”
To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science today, we spoke to 16-year-old Jennifer and teachers at Temeke Secondary School, along with our Skills for Their Future partner, BRAC Tanzania.
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On current trends, more than half of all young people will not have the skills necessary for employment by 2030 – and girls can be particularly disadvantaged because of gender and cultural prejudices. Skills for Their Future and our earlier Code Clubs project have been delivering digital skills to girls and young women in several countries since 2016.
In Tanzania, we have been working with our partner BRAC for four years to provide digital literacy, coding and entrepreneurship education to young female students.
Susan Bipa, BRAC’s Tanzania Country Director, said: “Digital skills are very important for the youth to enable them to cope with a changing world. The programme has performed very well, so we and Theirworld have decided to expand it to three other secondary schools in Dar es Salaam.”
Teachers at Temeke Secondary School have been impressed with the progress shown by students. Kiangi Mihando Mganga said: “We believe that these girls are going to make a positive influence in science because they have computer skills. I advise the girls to share the skills they have obtained with other students, so that they can also benefit.”
Another teacher, Adela Msola, said the programme has helped students to be more confident in their overall abilities. She added: “I am grateful to the supporters of this programme for choosing us and choosing girl students, knowing how important it is for our community.”
That’s because the digital learning gained goes well beyond the classroom. Jennifer explained: “I shared the knowledge with my family because I wanted them to also understand. It helped my father to use his phone for finding materials online and my family in budgeting.”
Her mother Mary Dionis Kileo agrees. She said: “I would advise my daughter and her schoolmates to continue learning and not give up even if it becomes tough and challenging, so that they can also spread the knowledge to others.”
Theirworld’s Skills for Their Future projects are made possible thanks to the generosity of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.