Rwanda: Kagame Makes Case for Education of the Girl Child

President Paul Kagame (file photo).

President Paul Kagame on Thursday called on global educationists to advocate and act to ensure girls have access to the digital resources and the skills they need.

Kagame was speaking during the 'Building the Bandwith' a virtual conference hosted by the Varkey Foundation, UNESCO, and CJ Cultural Foundation.

The meeting brought together education leaders to among others discuss ways to address the issue of women being left behind as technology advances.

In his remarks, the head of state shared Rwanda's experience, saying that the current Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected all aspects of national life, adding that education has not been spared.

"The disruption of in-person classes has exposed, more than ever, the gap in digital access, skills, and online learning for all children, especially girls," he said.

But, Kagame highlighted, "We have the opportunity to re-engage in the cause of girl's education. So that they are not left even behind."

He highlighted Rwanda's efforts in making significant investments in digital infrastructure and training for the young people.

For example, he said, the Rwanda Coding Academy admits 50 percent women and aims to resolve the shortage in engineers through a focused engineering program at high school level.

Similarly, Centres of Excellence in ICT, including Carnergie Mellon University-Africa, the University of Rwanda, and the AIMS, have dedicated scholarships for female candidates.

"We must ensure that the ongoing global health crisis doesn't erode these initiatives and other similar efforts around the world, aimed at bridging the digital gender divide."

Narrowing this gap, he asserted, requires that we sustain efforts for inclusive economic growth guarantee security and community safety and continue to promote gender equality more generally.

Kagame reiterated the government's commitment, as a key partner to UNESCO, regional and global initiatives to leverage technologies for girl's education.

Education leaders say that over the last year, there has been a sudden and profound shift in the role of digital technology in education systems around the world.

Like Rwanda, many countries have turned to online learning platforms after temporarily closing their schools and other learning spaces to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

More recently however, there are growing concerns that the global move toward online learning and other forms of educational technology could be leaving girls and young women behind.

Consequently there are growing concerns about girls' safety online.

Educationists say, parents and caregivers can limit girls' time online because of the heightened risk of sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content.

Hence, both and women routinely face gender-based harassment online and it is more difficult for them to navigate digital spaces safely than it is for boys and men.

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