Rwandan Teacher Named First WCE Inspire Girls Teacher Fellow
Beatrice Nyinawingeli has been a teacher in Remera in the rural east of Rwanda since 1993. For the past 24 years she has been rotating from one village to another. In 2014, she worked with the Amahoro Foundation, a registered non-governmental organization operating in Rwanda led by her husband, to establish Peace Keepers Academy. The academy now has 120 students from Nursery School till P3 (age 9). Beatrice is now teaching students aged 6-9 and is also the school´s head teacher.
A couple of years ago, our Field Associate in Rwanda, Daniel Turikumwe, recommended Beatrice to participate in the pilot of our Inspire Girls project. For the past year, she and her students have been paired in the Inspire Girls pilot with Carole Zei and some of her students in McHenry, Illinois, USA. It has been a challenge as Beatrice´s students only speak some English, there is a difference in time zones, and Peace Keepers Academy has limited computers and internet access.
We asked Carole Zei about her work with Beatrice and she said, ¨I have had the honor of partnering with Beatrice to help our young girls learn about how technology can help them in their lives, now and in the future. She and I have collaborated for the past three years, using an app to share our students’ stories of daily life, what they wish for their futures, and how to change the world with kindness. Beatrice has an innate sense of how to best engage her students using the latest in digital technology. She is always willing to try something new and is constantly experimenting with new technology to find tools that are in the best interest of her students. I look forward to many more rewarding years working with Beatrice and our students.¨
Through the years, Beatrice has found that many young girls in the Remera area lack proper access to ICT and computers in general. She also sees an increase in girls who drop out because of early pregnancies. It is very hard for these girls to live and raise their children because they cannot get jobs nor support from their families. She says that, ¨Small scale business mothers also lack information to improve businesses because of no initial knowledge of technology. Students in Primary and Secondary Schools fear to pursue career about technology due to the lack of nearby and affordable computer centers.¨
In addition to her work with young girls, over the past year Beatrice has developed a new WCE Inspiring Girls Club under the Amahoro Foundation. The six young single mothers in the picture on the left have begun meeting regularly with her. They have formed an open community where they share their life stories and experiences, while encouraging each other, making plans for their futures.
Beatrice proposes an Amahoro Foundation center that would help the challenges of lack of ICT education and access. The center would be for primary and secondary students. The students could meet during weekends and after school hours. With computer access, students could acquire basic computer skills, and get inspired to pursue careers in ICT and STEM. The new center would be equipped with internet to help children with researches on their subjects and increase their successes in classes and run the pen-pal program.
Beatrice has been estimating the costs for the center so that they can begin to raise the needed funds. The main cost drivers will be the center location, training for their trainers, and equipment including computers, sewing machines, and hair dressing equipment.
The proposed Amahoro Foundation Center will also admit single mothers from the area and provide them with basic computer skills that could allow them to get jobs – helping women who had to stop their education due to early pregnancies a chance to continue their education. The center will also be equipped with sewing machines, hair dressing, and other crafts making equipment. The center will be able to provide technology and entrepreneurship skills to single mothers to allow them to make money for a living so they can raise their children. The center will also be a Telecentre, and have entrepreneurship skills resources for small scale business mothers, especially those who buy and sell different items in the markets. Access to technology and new computer skills will help these women, especially in their businesses.
In August of this year, the Club aims to begin to gradually expand by holding a three-day event to provide emotional and psychological healing for 68 unprivileged girls who missed education opportunities due to early pregnancies. They will do a needs assessment of the girls to see which of the planned programs each girl would find most beneficial. The expected program that is being developed will provide these girls with life skills, tailoring, embroidery, and hair dressing skills. At a technology skills center, they will also learn basic computer skills. The technology skills center will also give technology opportunities to primary and secondary school girls after school and on weekends. It will also give this opportunity to small scale business mothers to enable them to access information that can improve their businesses. In general the program will give these girls and mothers abilities to become financially self-reliant.
Jacqueline Terasconi, WCE´s Inspire Girls Manager, reviewed Beatrice’s proposal. and commented, ¨I think it’s a wonderful idea; she is trying to accomplish a lot of thing as far as what they are producing for WCE, how they decide to acquaint students with technology could turn into a resource for WCE. Maybe they find that the best way to inspire girls is to teach their mothers business skills, show the girls their mothers can use technology and develop a curriculum to help small businesses incorporate technology into their businesses, which WCE could then include in their content pack.” She added, ¨Additionally, this could be a resource that shows young students how technology can already fit into things that already exist in their world like small market businesses. This could begin to open their minds to the possibilities of technology beyond whatever conceptions they already have.¨
Beatrice is ambitious. Five years from now, she is looking forward to having 1,000 young ladies trained who currently do not have the capacity to shape their future. She hopes to accomplish this with computer technology and vocational training center that will allow them earn their livelihoods with dignity. Beatrice also plans to have permanent sexual reproductive education in the center as preventive measures to the girls’ unplanned pregnancies.
Based on Jacqui´s evaluation and upon the recommendation of her Field Associate and her paired teacher, WCE has named Beatrice Nyinawingeli of Remera, Rwanda as our first WCE Inspire Girls Teacher Fellow. Beatrice will develop a sharable teacher resource around her project training young mothers in computers and sewing. Initially Beatrice is receiving some laptops and $200. More may come based on what Beatrice learns and shares with WCE in a way that is shareable with other interested teachers.
Beatrice Agrees To The Following:
Continue operating computer project with young mothers in Remera
Continue in the ongoing Inspire Girls pairing with a teacher and students in the USA
Provide answers and photo for an article for WCE eNews and website
Write a sharable short resource about lessons learned and advice on how to do this type of project within 3 or 4 months
WCE Agrees To The Following:
Arrange for hand-carrying a small number of additional laptops to Beatrice in August
$200 to be wired for one semester to Beatrice soon
A pairing teacher and students from in the USA: Carole Zei
A businesswoman as an online resource: Mirella Shannon
Assistance from Daniel Turikumwe, WCE Field Associate for Rwanda
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS: World Computer Exchange (WCE) seeks simple informal proposals from teachers nominated by a WCE Field Associate to develop and write about a resource that WCE can share with other teachers in Africa interested in ideas and resources that will help inspire girls to pursue careers in technology. The proposal can include what the teacher has tried, what resource the teacher found that helped, what the teacher has learned so far, and what the teacher thinks would be good to try with students for the next semester. WCE can provide assistance from the WCE Field Associate, an on-line business woman, and a teacher from another country, some funds, and equipment as needed. One teacher can be selected from each of the ten African countries that currently have WCE Field Associates: Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Preference is given to proposals that include active participation by youth. After a full semester including monthly progress update emails, when a teacher provides a sharable resource WCE sends US$200. The project can continue beyond one semester.