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Back to their future: Girls return to digital skills after Covid delays

Students from schools across Uganda attend the Skills for Their Future programme

Theirworld’s Skills for Their Future programme is helping to narrow the digital divide for girls and young women at schools in Uganda.


Girls in Uganda are enjoying being back in the classroom after experiencing one of the longest Covid-related school closures in the world.

Among them are the 1,000 girls and young women who are studying digital literacy through Theirworld’s Skills for Their Future programme.

Along with more than 10 million other students in Uganda, they suffered almost two years of very little in-person teaching. But now they’re sitting at their desks once more.

“I was super excited and amazed because I really missed the company of school,” said 18-year-old Ainembabazi Ritah about going back to Bishop Kivengere Girls School in Muyebe, western Uganda. “I missed my teachers, I missed the lessons and mostly I missed the clubs.

83 weeks How long Uganda’s schools were fully or partially closed

“I am interested in learning coding and videography. After that, I can think critically and create something on my own using technology, for example making mobile applications.” 

Theirworld and our partner Women in Technology Uganda (WITU) are delivering digital skills at 10 schools spread across the country, as part of our Skills for Their Future programme.

The programme is designed to narrow the digital gender divide that risks holding back girls and young women. It equips them with the tools, skills and attitude needed to prepare them for future careers in ICT (information communications technology) and other sectors.

 

"The thing I like about studying on computers is that I will get employment opportunities when I leave school."

Pretty Nahweera, 17, from St Theresa Girls School

We also have a Skills for Their Future programme in Tanzania and last year we ran projects in Kenya and Nigeria  – all made possible thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Like many countries, Uganda shut its schools in March 2020 as the pandemic took hold. When they reopened, the Skills for Their Future project began in May last year. But rising cases in Uganda meant classes were quickly closed again and they stayed shut until January.  

Now everyone is thrilled to be getting back on track.  

1,000 Girls and young women at 10 Ugandan schools in the Skills for Their Future programme

Allen Arinaitwe, WITU Director of Programs, said: “A child without education is like a bird without wings. Skills For Their Future is the best thing that can happen to any child post-Covid.

“WITU is excited to restart this programme with Theirworld to empower and influence more schoolgirls with digital skills and shape their careers in STEM.” 

Dawoo Kevin Francis, 19, is enjoying the return of Skills for Their Future at Bishop Kivengere Girls School.

“Digital skills develop self-esteem in girls, help them to become lifelong learners and promote gender equality."

Nyesigye Dolothy, computer teacher from Bishop Kivengere School

She said: “I missed touching and typing on a computer in the school. The programme has helped me to do my own work and create files using a family computer.” 

Fifteen-year-old Akoragye Faith added: ”This is a computerised generation so you can’t live in this world without digital skills. They help you create friendships, become creative and innovative.” 

Narrowing the divide

Skills for Their Future, and its predecessor programme Code Clubs, has helped over 3,000 young women gain technology skills across sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, and delivered training to over 100 teachers.

We partner with local organisations to help girls learn skills, schools deliver quality education and local companies offer work opportunities.

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