Over the weekend, Miss Geek 2015 ended with 15-year-old Vanessa Mutesi, from Kigali International Community School, emerging the winner after presenting an education access platform, dubbed ‘Rwanda Online Open School. The app will enable students to access learning materials as well as interlink them for information sharing purposes.
The competition may be only two years old, but it has already played a critical role in attracting more girls to the traditionally male dominated science field.
In the past, several interventions have been devised to attract more girls into sciences but have largely not been successful.
There are several lessons to learn from the highly successful initiative. The most important lesson is that determination and perseverance is important for one to achieve their goal.
Initially, the founders had a challenge of getting people to understand what they were doing and why they were doing it. It was hard for them to get sponsors, but this did not break their spirit.
Despite not having enough resources, their determination paid off as, today, the initiative has attracted several sponsors and the number of girls participating has since more than doubled every year.
As the initiative continues to provide a platform for girls to be more interested in sciences, it should be given more support by all stakeholders.
One of the future plans of the founders is to transform Ms Geek into a regional event by involving more countries. This plan should be supported since the initiative has already showed tangible benefits in a short time.
Miss Geek has proved to us that girls are as talented as boys. We need to continue sensitising girls to use technology to provide solutions to Rwandan problems and serve as an awareness tool that encourages girls to take on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, especially in the rural areas where exposure to IT is limited compared to urban schools. Indeed the initiative should have a special focus on rural schools.