Female students in the country have been urged to develop self-confidence and pursue Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as Technical and Vocational Training and Education (TVET) courses for them to play a critical role in national development.
The call was made by officials on Monday in Gakenke District during Imbuto Foundation rewarding event of best performeing girls in the 2017 national examinations.
This year, a total of 172 best performing girls in last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations, Ordinary and Advanced levels will be awarded, joining over 4600 students awarded since 2005.
In Gakenke, 80 best performing girls--also known as Inkubito z'Icyeza--were awarded, 82 students will be awarded today (Tuesday) in Nyamagabe District, Southern Province while 10 were awarded early this month in Muhanga District, according to officials.
Those who completed primary and Ordinary Level are given scholastic materials and cash to open saving accounts while those in Advanced Level receive laptops and ICT training to ease transition to university.
Speaking as chief guest at the event, Francine Tumushime, the Minister for Lands and Forestry challenged girls to focus on their studies and particularly Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics as well as TVET courses.
“You are as capable as your male counterparts, all you need is self-confidence and determination to achieve your goals,” she told the young girls after handing them awards.
She said rewards by Imbuto Foundation and other initiatives by government and partners were established to support girls not because they are not capable but because they were left behind due to bad history.
She urged young women to be innovative and use opportunities at their disposal to prepare themselves to be job creators.
She urged collective effort among teachers, parents and local leaders to ensure that all children and particularly girls complete school and avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Sylivie Uhirwa, 22, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Rwanda, said with determination and encouragement girls can pass sciences.
“You only need determination and self-evaluation to improve where you lag behind,” she said.
“Parental guidance is also important throughout the journey, talk to the girls about reproductive health to avoid unwanted pregnancies,” she added.
Girls expressed optimism, saying they were ready to do their best to pursue courses that would help them contribute to national development.
“The Imbuto Foundation awards are a motivation to pursue our dreams. My future plan is to become a pilot as I am undertaking science courses, I will do sciences at university too,” said Audrey Umurerwa Gatera who emerged second in O’ level examinations last year.
The Ministry of Education says that the number of females studying STEM continues to rise with latest statistics indicating that in 2015, 55.1 percent of girls in secondary schools opted to enroll in science classes, up from 48.7 per cent in 2011.
Over 45 per cent of girls pursue TVET, according to the ministry.