The Minister for Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, has called on girls to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) courses, especially at the tertiary level.
Biruta was speaking yesterday at the launch of a 10-year scholarship programme, dubbed The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program in Rwanda, a brainchild of a collaborative effort between the Toronto-based charity MasterCard Foundation and FAWE, a pan-African organisation that promotes girls education.
Today, Biruta said, the percentage share of enrollment in Stem fields in upper secondary school is 55 per cent of boys and 45 per cent girls. "At higher institution level, there are 28 per cent of girls enrolled in Stem related fields compared to 78 per cent of boys".
"We all know that much as we need managers, educationists, and others, science and technology related subjects are currently top required skills in the labour market and play a big role in economic development," he said. "I urge FAWE and The MasterCard Foundation to encourage girls to go into these fields in big numbers."
He also encouraged girls to take on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) courses which he said have potential to become the drivers of Rwanda's economic development and are thus among the country's priority skills.
At the launch event, ten girls were officially handed scholarship awards. The schoolgirls represented 200 pioneer scholars already under The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program in Rwanda. Recipients were chosen based on academic performance and financial need, as well as leadership potential.
Many of the girls spoke of how the scholarships will help them realise their dreams. Seventeen-year old Lucie Mujawamariya, born in a family of seven siblings in Rusizi District, said the scholarship will enable her to stay in school, adding that her parents were facing difficulty in raising her school fees. Mujawamariya offers Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) and wants to become a medical doctor.
Reeta Roy, the president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, said the comprehensive education scholarships do not only provide an education but also shape scholars into people who will give back to community in the future.
She challenged the Rwandan scholars to get prepared to tackle global challenges such as conflict and climate change in the future. "We need great minds that will help transform the world and make it a better place for all," she told the scholars.
The $9.3 million programme is expected to help 1,200 Rwandan upper secondary school girls obtain education, life skills, and leadership skills, among others. The scholarships include all the necessary scholastic materials and it is estimated that at least 70 per cent of the girls will also successful complete university.
Also present at the function were State ministers Mathias Harebamungu (Primary and Secondary Education) and Albert Nsengiyumva (TVET) as well as Dr Jendayi Frazer, the former U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, a Board member of The MasterCard Foundation, and FAWE Africa Chairperson and former Guinean Education minister Aicha Bah Diallo.
Also present at the function were State ministers Mathias Harebamungu (Primary and Secondary Education) and Albert Nsengiyimva (TVET) as well as Dr. Jendayi Frazer, the former U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs , a Board member of The MasterCard Foundation, and FAWE Africa Chairperson and former Guinean Education minister Aicha Bah Diallo.