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The absence of rural girls in the digital era

As a high school student, I used to be quite poor in Mathematics. The Math teacher used to come in with his book and stand in front of the class and ask us to work out equations. The front desk in the middle row of the class there were these three boys who occupied it, directly facing the teacher. These were the students whom we all knew were good in Math and the teacher would start working the endless equations or the transformations on the board with the three boys shouting the answers. Whenever, they worked something and got to the next level, the teacher would ask the three boys what answers they would have come up with and the boys would shout their answer and move on to the next level. I remember sitting on my bench, holding my calculator blankly, confused and totally lost. The rest of the class would be totally forgotten as the teacher concentrated on the three boys in class and they moved on and covered new topics without even asking if the rest of the class was catching up.

I remember this now as I think of the absence of rural girls in this digital era. I work with girls in rural Hurungwe district in Zimbabwe on a leadership and mentorship program. I remember excitedly telling the girls that I had started a Facebook page on our project and had posted some of their pictures there as well as on our organizational website. I realized I was talking to myself judging by the blank looks on their faces. I asked them if they knew about the internet and how it works, and they shook their heads, no. Some of them had heard of Facebook but none of them had ever used it. These are girls between the ages of 15 and 19.

I realized this is the same case as when we were high school students in the Math class, which went on right before our eyes with a few people and the rest were left far behind. Why, because in our country a lot of people especially in urban areas have some of the latest technology within 24 hours of it being released to the public in developed countries. People own high tech gadgets like ipads, tablets, the latest smart phones and were on all the trendy social media platforms like Instagram Pintinterest and Twitter, yet when I took out my tablet to take photos with in a session with the girls they didn't know what it was. Public institutions in towns are now all connected to the internet,church pastors now read the Bible from their tablets in church, members of parliament walk around with the ipads and smart phones, ebanking is all over the place and it seems from afar that we are all moving at the same pace. It seems we are a country that is moving along with the rest of the world were the internet and technology are concerned. But is this really the case? Where is the rural girl, in all this? Isnt it the case of my high school Math teacher in a class of 45, he was moving along with only 3 students? Should this teacher go home happy and say he is making progress with his class. Should our leaders be happy with this technological progress when it is only skin deep? Again I ask, where is the rural girl in this digital era?

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