In Ghana, UNICEF is equipping a group of Tech Girls to become young journalists and tell their stories via blogs and digital photography. They are also given skills to advocate for change in their communities. Gloria Seidu, 11, is one of the members of the group, said: “I am writing a story about the girls who sell sachets of water on the street. They are missing out on going to school.”
Tech Girls was founded by NGO Savana Signatures and EMpower in the Northern Region of Ghana, a region where girls from the poorest households are three times more likely to be out of school compared to the national average. The clubs promote female participation in ICT and have been shown to improve learning and promote school attendance.
By MADELEINE LOGAN
PONG TAMALE, Ghana, 31 October 2013 – YOU can see a field of maize from the open window of Pong Tamale Primary School’s computer lab. The monitors are covered to protect them from the dust blown up from the dirt road outside. This is where the Tech Girls gather every week for classes on online storytelling, interviewing, and photography – the tools needed to amplify their voices and advocate for change.
“Before, if you would go to class, only boys would raise their hands to talk. Now the Tech Girls stand tall and speak out. There is a difference in their general performance, and their grades have all improved.” – Pong Tamale School Headmaster Tia Anthony
Savanna Signatures executive director Stephen Agbenyo said that before the NGO provided a computer lab to the school, “ICT was purely theoretical”.
“The teacher would draw the mouse and the keyboard on the board, and try to explain the key concepts. Now they have the lab, the students have gone from theory to practice,” he said.
There are 100 Tech Girls in schools across the Northern Region. For the past year they met outside of class time for sessions in ICT. The girls had never touched a computer before so the lessons started with the basics – logging in, typing, and creating and saving files. UNICEF came on board in July this year to expand the focus of the Tech Girls clubs and equip members to tell their own stories and become young reporters.
The girls are bursting to have their say on the issues they see in their community, and to post their stories and photos on Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s digital community for children and young people. They say they want to write about their friends who sell water on the street, the girls who move away to the capital city, Accra, in search of work, and teenage pregnancy – all of which exclude girls from school.
Empowering girls to speak out
Pong Tamale School headmaster Tia Anthony says the Tech Girls’ learning and school attendance has improved, thanks to their membership of the club.
“Before, if you would go to class, only boys would raise their hands to talk. Now the Tech Girls stand tall and speak out. There is a difference in their general performance, and their grades have all improved.”
The girls who are gathered in the computer lab are dynamic and opinionated. They talk over each other in their eagerness to contribute to the discussion.
They are the voice of young girls in Northern Ghana. You’re invited to listen.