Lack of female role models in the information and communication technology (ICT) field has been singled out as a major factor that has led to few girls and young women joining the career.
The issue came out during the commemoration of this year’s ‘Girls in ICT Day’ which Plan Malawi organised in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
During a panel discussion on ICT, which was one of the activities marking the day, Plan Malawi Program Officer, Vitumbiko Neba said the ICT field lacks female role models that girls and young women can admire to join the career.
To close this gap, she said there must be deliberate initiatives to train more girls in ICT, especially in rural areas to create role models for others.
While urging the private sector to come up with such initiatives, Neba stressed the need to empower girls to create technology rather than just use it.
“Training of more girls in rural areas in ICT would be sustainable as the trained girls in the community would be role models to others,” she said.
Plan Malawi has trained a number of secondary school girls in ICT in Mulanje, Blantyre and Mzimba among other areas. Some of the girls are able to develop applications relating to health and education.
A 16-year-old Joyce Banda, a form 3 student at Emvuyeni Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Mzimba said has learnt how to make an application which makes studying easier at home or any where using a smart phone.
However, she said the big challenge is lack of resources to buy ICT gadgets like a smart phone or computer.
Plan Malawi’s ICT for Development (ICT 4D) Manager, Eldridge Mwangonde acknowledged low uptake of ICT among girls in Malawi, saying the commemoration event was organised to encourage girls to create technology.
He said his organisation has trained girls in the country so that they can create applications and be able to join the career in ICT.
According to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, there are fewer women that have graduated with degrees from a government-owned National College of ICT (NACIT) which offers ICT courses.
“As of today, NACIT has produced qualified and efficient 800 students at degree level of whom 300 are female and 500 male, and over 3,000 diploma and advanced diploma students.
“Most of these graduates are holding higher positions in the public sector,” said Dr Esmie Kainja who presided over the function.
Other public institutions that offer ICT-related courses in the country are the Polytechnic, Chancellor College and Mzuzu University.
Both, the officials and school girls at the function, expressed need for stakeholders to create more female role models in ICT so that more girls join the career.
A number of secondary schools, mostly from Lilongwe such as Dzuka Girls, Lilongwe Girls, Kuwala Girls and Njewa CDSS among others, took part in the commemoration function.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :