Digital Skills Training
We teach women and girls how to use a computer and also computer programming alongside entrepreneurial skills to become creators and innovators through gender-responsive STEM education and skills training and access to mentors and business support tools.
Women and girls living in low-income communities in Nigeria lack access and use to a computer and 35% of this population are females living with disabilities-(NBBS 2019). Women and girls are heavily underrepresented in the digital world, particularly in rural settings where access, cost, and other socio-cultural factors limit girls’ and women’s ability to engage with new technologies. This issue is important because digital skills foster creativity and innovation in females that can bring about improvements, such as health and well-being, infrastructure, sustainable energy production, agriculture and other sectors in the society.
Also, according to the Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics 2018, 85% of girls living in low-income communities in Nigeria cannot use a computer. I saw this as a wake-up call to start teaching young girls from these communities computer literacy so that they can equal their peers nationally and globally. ICT mostly internet access improves the interest and motivation of female students and in return improves their educational achievement. ICT facilities should be provided in the schools, training should be organized in schools to help young girls learn the relevance of ICT to education, female teachers should equally be encouraged to adapt to ICT so that the disparity with the students will be nonexistent.
Blue Sands Academy uses innovative and exciting models to stir the interest of girls to embrace ICT as the new normal in this 21st Century and then introduce them to tech competitions. We organize tech competitions for secondary school girls where these girls come to pitch their tech solutions before judges and investors. After which, they are taught how to market their tech solutions and make money that can sustain the project they are doing.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics 2019, only 22% of females are in the tech sector, so this shows the deep gender gap in the tech sector. Technology makes life easier, If FaceBook can make life easier for over 1 billion people across the globe just by leveraging on tech, then why don’t we encourage and teach our young ones how to build tech solutions. This is where Blue Sands Academy comes in, to build the future of female techpreneurs today. We are the first institution to engage over 7000 secondary school girls in tech in preparing them for the 21st century kind of jobs.
We formed tech clubs and trained our girls to build mobile Apps and other tech solutions, this is what the normal school system does not do. The computer clubs in most schools in Nigeria only teach students to pass computers without practising it, but at Blue Sands Academy we teach them computer literacy, programming/coding, graphics design, networking, UI/UX Design etc. From 2018 till date we have trained over 10000 secondary schools and 60% of these girls have won ICT competitions for their schools and for their projects. For example in 2019, it was my girls from Queen Amina College Kaduna that won the 2019 ICT competition and so many others too.
Economic Empowerment of Rural Women
8 in 10 rural women living in Nigeria cannot afford $1 a day to feed. They lack access to opportunities, skills training, mentorship, access to funds, etc. We collaborate with many partners to explore the universe of rural women in Nigeria, Africa and all over the world and create an engendered rural development agenda, with a dedicated look at creating gender-responsive programs that will benefit rural women. The discourse and resources generated on this forum will help to add rigour to policy-making and advocacy.
We provide business skills opportunities, training, funding for rural women. We carved out our program for rural women to cover the following areas.
The programme is designed around the following four outcome areas:
Outcome 1: Improved food and nutrition security, deals with increasing the productive potential of women smallholder farmers.
Outcome 2: Rural women’s increased income to secure their livelihoods focuses on supporting rural women’s livelihood strategies, enhancing their income opportunities along the food value chain, supporting women-led entrepreneurship and promoting their linkages to high-value markets.
Outcome 3: Rural women’s enhanced leadership and participation in their communities and in rural institutions, and in shaping laws, policies and programmes promote their agency in producer organizations and local governance.
Outcome 4: Gender-responsive policy environments for the economic empowerment of rural women catalyzes legislative and policy reforms for the effective enforcement of rural women’s land rights and their access to decent wage employment and social protection and infrastructure.
Skills Training for Persons With Disabilities
We also offer subsidized training for persons with disabilities in technical and vocational education and training is one of our core areas of responsibility. Many people living with disabilities have been forgotten by society. Many employers and organizations do not put out calls for persons with disabilities because they think these demographics are less productive, but one thing we should all bear in mind is that they are also part of society and therefore must be included in our processes.
We provide technical, vocational education and training for persons with disabilities and then connect them to organizations for employment or they become employers themselves.
Persons with disabilities makeup one-tenth of our population and can contribute in a significant way to the GDP of the country if their right to decent work is promoted and protected. Fortunately, the Government of Bangladesh has shown strong commitment towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007. It is pledged bound to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities in the country. To support this commitment, the government has made the inclusion of persons with disabilities in skills training and employment a key priority and set a 5% admission quota for students with disabilities in all technical and vocational training institutes.