At least 100 girls will, by the end of this year, be selected to join higher institutions of learning pursuing science and technology courses under the Equal Opportunity Programme.
The two-year project that is coordinated under the Ministry of Education, is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and targets to enroll a total of 200 girls in tertiary institutions by the end of next year.
According to the project coordinator, Diogene Mulindahabi, the goal of the project is to improve science and technology and industrial skills base by building the capacity of female students.
“This programme in science and technology was designed to promote gender equity at the higher educational level. This programme re-enforces Rwanda’s 2020 vision and will help towards achieving the MDGs,” said Mulindahabi.
The girls, who are currently undergoing a six-month training in science subjects, were selected from all over the country with the help of the national examinations body.
Science students who never made it to the government sponsored list in 2008 will benefit in the first batch, while the second group will be selected from the 2009 candidates.
“We selected 130 girls who had got between 16 and 18 points in science combinations and they have been undergoing training since July,” said Mulindahabi adding that it is among these that 100 will be selected in December after the preparatory exam to enroll them for the 2011 academic year.
The students will be distributed to the National University of Rwanda (NUR) Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Kicukiro College of Technology, and will be catered for just like any other government sponsored student.
The programme will basically help raise the participation of women in science and technology fields which is still weak at the level of higher education.
Statistics from the Education Ministry show only19 percent of women study agriculture were while those studying science and technology stood at 16 percent at NUR in 2005.
In 2008, the overall enrolment stood at 13.9 percent.
The trend shows that girl numbers tend to decline from primary up to tertiary institutions. Girls begin to decline with 47.8 percent enrolling at secondary level in comparison to 52.2 percent of boys.
Further disparities can be observed at tertiary level where only about 35 percent of girls achieve the grades to win government places in higher institutions and the number of girls taking sciences in higher education remains low.