Stairs inside of a mosque in Ghana lead up to a classroom full of tables and computers. Each week, the classroom located in Lima (a slum in Accra) transforms into a girl power tech session led by entrepreneur Regina Agyare.
Agyare, who is the founder of software development company Soronko Solutions, told CNN, “‘When the parents are praying [downstairs], we are teaching the girls upstairs.’” The businesswoman first met the girls in January of last year when she went to head a seminar as part of her mentorship program Tech Needs Girls. Agyare says she fell in love with the girls, “‘so I decided to set up a coding club and started having regular sessions.’”
The students are a part of Achievers Ghana, an education initiative started by Amadu Mohammad and Amina Ismael. Achievers in Ghana supports over 200 girls as they pursue their education, identifying vulnerable children and providing scholarships so that they can attend school.
Agyare has now evolved what was supposed to be one seminar into a weekly meetup where university women join her in teaching the Nima girls. About fifty girls in each class partner with their mentor to learn HTML.
Some of the students had never even used a computer before the meetups. “‘I definitely feel [technology] has given them more of a voice,’” Agyare said. “‘I feel like it’s allowed them to express themselves and interact with others… for them, it’s important to be heard.’”
The software developer was surprised when she received a letter from a local boy who expressed his dislike of her efforts to teach girls about computers and tech. As a solution and effort to confront gender expectations, Agyare decided to welcome boy students too. She explained that many of the boys perceive women as wives only. Introducing mixed gender classes, however, can potentially help boys “‘see a woman as a contributing person [within society].’”
The end goal is for Achievers Ghana students to have an opportunity to attend college. They are currently working on a scholarship program. “Agyare says the goal is not to turn every girl into software developers but to enable them to ‘use technology in whatever field they find themselves,’” CNN reports. She added that girls pursuing computer science “‘would be great,’” but ultimately she wants to help them maximize their potential and bring change to the community.