Even though the landscape of gender inequality in society has seen much change across western democracies, this transformation has yet to be fully inculcated into our ethno-cultural society. In Sierra Leone, gender inequality is evident at all levels of influence. In the educational sector, men are considered better than women. However, all this is about to change after a female student, Mariatu Gbla, clinched the top prize in the academic battlefield, beating all the men and women that took series of high tech exams.
The academic war was ignited during a comprehensive computer based exam at the Institute of Ishaak Muckson Innovative Technology Training Center in Mile 91 (http://www.imittcenter.com). The grand prize for best student was a brand new laptop that is worth Le 2, 594920 (Two Million Five Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty Leones) or $600 dollars, followed by a second prize of Le350, 000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Leones), and a third prize for best class attendance of Le 150,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Leones) respectively.
Mariatu, who is a graduate from Port-Loko Teacher College with a Higher Teachers Certificate (HTC) and currently a Senior Secondary School Teacher at the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood (SLMB) in Mile 91, has a proud history of academic excellence that stretches back to her primary school days. She was the best student throughout her primary school education and was nicked named “Brain of the class.”
Unlike other students that came hours leading to the exams, Mariatu was very quiet, yet focused and determined to rewrite the history books. Many students thought that a male student would take the grand prize. When asked by one of the school tutors, Mr. Kamara on how prepared she was for the exam, Mariatu quietly replied, “I think I’m prepared for the exam but I am a little apprehensive of this new computer based exams system”.
After the first module exam, Mariatu looked very sad. She knew her performance was below expectation, yet she refused to allow herself be defeated. She went into her next exam with a more composed mind and ultimately began taking the lead in her subsequent exams. The big surprise came when Mariatu scored an outstanding grade of 98% in her last Database exam which placed her on the top position and eventually won her the top prize.
The exams drew the attention of the entire township of Mile 91; it took eleven hours to complete. There were eight exams modules; each module contains sixty (60) hands-on practical questions. Candidates performed tasks that were asked on the computer screen. Grades were automatically calculated by the program and presented to students after successfully performing the last task of the last question. Students were amazed on how quickly they receive their results.
Asking the institute’s proprietor, Mr. Muckson Sesay, what he thinks about the performance of the students, this is what he has to say, “I’m impressed by the outstanding performance of the students, especially the female students. “This is just an example of how women could be equally successful in the IT profession as men do,” he continued.
The computer based exam software was developed by the school proprietor who is also a software developer and Director of a computer Technology Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, Excellent Technology Solution Inc, http://www.etsolutionsinc.ca .
With its newly established computer training program at the Government Technical Institute in Magburaka, IMITT institution is fulfilling its mandate of integrating computer literacy into classrooms, rebuilding local intellectual capacity and setting the foundation for a digitally prepared Sierra Leone.