Celebrating Girls Education in Rwanda

The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for a select group of Intel employees to support the deployment of Intel classmate PCs in developing countries. In this blog, Harini Peddi, a software application engineer at Intel, recaps her interactions with girls in Rwanda at a World Vision supported school in this blog celebrating the International Day of the Girl.

Intel volunteer shares with Rwandan students

We often use the term “sugar daddy” as a joke, but imagine if you needed one to stay in school? This is one of the issues faced by girls in Rwanda, who now have equal access to primary and secondary education, but still face higher drop-out rates.

At ETO Nyamata, a vocational school around one hour from Rwanda’s capital Kigali, I talked to a number of female students striving to get a good education and jobs despite economic pressures and the frequent call to help their families back at home.

Olive, who tells me proudly "I have no sugar daddies!"

Olive, who was raised by a single father, sang proudly to me, “I have no sugar daddies!” She told me how grateful she was to her father for supporting her education and protecting her.

Not all of the girls here have been so lucky. Alice lost her father many years ago, and she now struggles to pay her fees. She wants to become an electronics technician, and moreover, “a person of value.” But sometimes she is turned away from school when her fees have not been paid.

Alice, who struggles to pay her school fees

Betty told me about her parents’ sacrifices to support her education. Both subsistence farmers, her parents had to sell their land to generate the cash to pay for Betty’s fees.

I was also able to speak with Josepha, who teaches micro-computing and is the only female teacher in the computer science department. After finishing secondary school, she was accepted into university but had to work her way through and was lucky to have assistance from her husband and her school.

She tells me that most of her female students come from poor families. “When they don’t have money for fees,” she said, “some girls get help from some men and in exchange they give their body.”

Josepha, the only woman on her computer science faculty

So when the girls here speak proudly of not having any sugar daddies, you can see that they are deadly serious, and that it’s not easy to avoid such pressure.

When I told a group of girls that I was a computer engineer at Intel, they broke into applause. I have felt so welcomed here by all of the students at ETO Nyamata, but especially the girls. It’s an honor to share their stories of perseverance on this International Day of the Girl.

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