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Frances Agba wearing a colourful dress and standing on a bridge.

News story

Cybergirl leader awarded scholarship to teach tech to females in poverty

November 18, 2022

An Edge Hill University student who has been teaching tech skills to women and girls living in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has been awarded an excellence scholarship to support her work.

Frances Agba has been teaching a mixture of tech and English lessons to her female students for the last three years to give them new career opportunities and a chance to improve their circumstances.

Her pupils learn computer and language skills that can be used all over the world in a range of settings, often changing their lives forever.

Frances said: “It started as tutoring a handful of students in China where I was studying. Word got out among international students and people started coming to me asking for help with qualifications to study abroad like GCSEs and A-Levels or learning English. It continued to spread by word of mouth, eventually, we gave it a name and Cybergirls was born.”

The majority taking part in Cybergirls are from Nigeria. For them learning tech skills has been transformational, giving them the ability to work remotely for a huge range of organisations and get a steady income of their own. Frances also helps them to find jobs with advice on writing a CV, creating a LinkedIn profile, finding recruiters and interview skills.

“Cybergirls is a success because you can do so much with a computer. Many of the girls I work with face the combined issues of poverty and low expectations attached to being a woman, but no one can see poverty through a computer, all employers see is your skills.”

The 30-year-old hopes that Cybergirls also goes some way to addressing the gender imbalance in tech, which remains a male dominated sector. She said: “I always saw loads of men in tech, girls in tech are still rare, especially ones from minority backgrounds. I want to change that. Women and men don’t always think alike, in cyber security women approach problems differently and come up with new solutions. Diversity benefits organisations by bringing in new, fresh ideas.”

Frances says that her work on Cybergirls inspired her to study teaching and build on her passion for expanding the opportunities of others. “My ambition was born in this project” she explained. “I love teaching and helping women and girls from minority backgrounds. I want to be a role model and an example of what can be achieved.

“One day I want to work for international organisations like the World Health Organisation or Unicef. I want to carry on doing what I did with Cybergirls but for a much bigger organisation.” 

Despite only starting her PGCE Secondary Computer Science and Information Technology with QTS course a few months ago Frances is already learning a lot and enjoying the challenge of being a student at one of the UK’s best teacher-training institutions. She will use her Edge Hill scholarship to continue the Cybergirls classes and help with living and travel expenses.

“The first time I came and had a class I was blown away. It’s like putting you through a blast furnace to forge you into a better teacher. I’m already reassessing my teaching methods and watching myself grow.”

Offering her advice to future students Frances said: “Be a go-getter and grab that opportunity, don’t think about what you can’t do, because anything is possible.” 

Edge Hill University offers a range of scholarships for applicants and current students to celebrate determination, commitment and achievement in a variety of areas, from rewarding academic excellence, overcoming adversity, and helping and inspiring others. Learn more about the range of scholarships at the University.

Alongside one of the most impressive and innovative scholarship packages in the higher education sector, the University operates the Student Opportunity Fund to help students take part in career-enhancing opportunities. Find out more about our Student Opportunity Fund.

To discover more about courses at Edge Hill University, please visit ehu.ac.uk/study.

November 18, 2022

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