Support Quality Science Education for Girls in Rwanda


Support Quality Science Education for Girls in Rwanda

Support Quality Science Education for Girls in Rwanda

Hello! If you are visiting this page, you’ve learned that we (Deb Semmler and Elizabeth Peacock) have planned a trip to Rwanda to provide science training and education to girls at two schools from mid-June through mid-July 2015.

For many people, Rwanda brings to mind the 1994 genocide. But today, Rwanda is focused on moving from humanitarian assistance to sustainable development and status as a “middle income country." The challenge is that Rwanda does not have enough managers and teachers with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training to solve large-scale problems related to healthcare, sanitation, and agriculture. The STEM education gap is especially wide in rural areas and for girls. Rwandan teachers and students desire hands-on learning, including examples of more effective real-world physics and biology lab activities.  

1,000 Teachers and High School Girls Will Benefit

Our plan addresses the needs of teachers and students at two schools. One is “Byimana,” a high school of approximately 900 students. The other is the Institute for Women’s Excellence (IWE) in the town of Ramagana, a combined middle/high school of 120 students. Often in Rwanda and other parts of Africa, STEM teaching is still driven by textbook-based exams. We will train teachers in hands-on science education that promotes critical thinking and problem solving. Students at both schools come from poor, rural communities. Both Byimana and IWE include students that receive scholarships through the Mentoring Mwiko merit-based scholarship project of Charlotte, NC-based nonprofit Mothering Across Continents

Physics & Engineering Instructor Deb Semmler Will Teach  

Deb is a physics teacher at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC, founder of the school’s Women’s Academy of Engineering, and member of the East Meck Global Immersion Steering Team. She has been invited to come to the schools in recognition of her experience providing and promoting professional development training to teachers, guest lectures to students, and examples of “purpose-based science” projects for all.  Deb is also a National Board Certified teacher of 23 years who began her career as an engineer at Duke Energy.  She is a Steering Committee member of the Charlotte Teachers Institute and completed the School Executive Leadership Academy (SELA) at Queens University in August 2014.   

Elizabeth Peacock Will Co-facilitate and Develop Longer-term Lesson Plans  

To leverage and build on this service project, Elizabeth will co-facilitate and record the needs of the Institute for Women’s Excellence (IWE), in particular. IWE serves orphans and extremely vulnerable girls, with a focus on mentoring them to develop vocational career plans. For three years, Elizabeth has developed global education lesson plans as Education Program Manager and Special Projects Coordinator of Mothering Across Continents. In this role, she co-led development of The Global Class & Any1Can Project resources. She has consulted with East Mecklenburg High School, where Deb teaches, on implementation of a Global Immersion Steering Team to guide global education and service projects. Elizabeth’s experiences from the trip will be turned into recommendations and resources, using the this project as a model for how to bring STEM education to other schools for at-risk students in Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa.

The Trip is Part of a Larger Dream

A dream of Deb’s is to return to Rwanda in 2016 on a service learning trip for girls from the East Mecklenburg High School Women’s Academy of Engineering. The goal is to create connections and share knowledge that strengthens girls STEM education in Rwanda while expanding global awareness and skills of US students. For instance, East Mecklenburg High School has a sustainable gardening and social entrepreneurship project underway. The Byimana school successfully grows enough produce to provide fresh greens to hundreds of students on daily basis. The long-term learning can be mutual.

How Can You Help?

The all-inclusive cost of this project to benefit more than 1,000 teachers and students is $12,000, including: roundtrip airfare for two, lodging, meals, transportation of demonstration lab equipment, and teaching/training resources. Funds are not being used for any salary or stipend. All donations are tax-deductible through this FirstGiving page or by check made out to Mothering Across Continents and designated for “Girls Science - Rwanda.” Checks can be mailed to: Mothering Across Continents, 310 Arlington Avenue, Suite 303, Charlotte, NC 28203. For more information and questions, contact: Elizabeth Peacock,, Tel.: 704.607.3301.

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