Raissa Malu

What about those scholarships?!

First announcement of the fellows for the scholarships for women in science in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Saturday 18th April, we were scheduled to meet at the Sultani Hotel for a gala evening to present the winners of the first campaign of the Scholarships for Women in Science in the Democratic Republic of Congo. COVID-19 having been there, we had to cancel everything.

But, these women cannot wait for the lockdown to be lifted and all borders to be reopened. Science continues. They need to be secured about their applications in order to prepare. So here I will introduce them to you. 😊

Acknowledgements

Before I begin, I would like to thank Nicole Sulu and the Sultani Makutano business network for partnering with Investing In People ASBL for these scholarships. Next, I would like to thank our generous donors, most of whom want to remain modest, but I cannot hide the generous contribution of Marceline Kaozi. Finally, I would like to thank the wonderful Prof. Karine Ndjoko Ioset, General Manager of the Bringmann Excellence Scholarship System at the Congolese Universities (BEBUC). The latter is the technical and scientific organ of the Sultani Makutano & Investing In people ASBL Scholarships.

Better orient policies in favour of women

Remember, it all started in January 2019 when Investing In People ASBL, which I head, launched the first Database of Women in Science in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the memorable 6th edition of the Science and Technology Week. Our aim was to have an overview of the background, challenges, opportunities and difficulties encountered by these technical and scientific profiles in order to better orient policies in favour of women in STEM.

It is the success of this database that convinced us, together with Sultani Makutano, to develop scholarships to support these women. We made the official announcement at the no less memorable 5th edition of the Sultani Makutano in September 2019. 😊

Four scholarships categories

It took another 4 months for Investing In People ASBL to put the scholarship registration management platform online. Here, I stop to thank once again the team of the Lushoise (Lubumbashi) startup ITOT Africa of Samy Mwamba who accompanied us in its development. I recommend them to you. On the side of Sultani Makutano, this time has been used to mobilize donors.

Finally, the first campaign of the Scholarships for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics of Investing In People ASBL and Sultani Makutano was launched on January 20, 2020! (the call for applications)

We offer four categories of scholarships: Study Scholarship for the Bachelor's level; Study Scholarship for the Master's or Doctorate level; Event Scholarship which covers part or all of the participation fees; Research Scholarship which is a research fund. The scholarships are open to women from the D. R.. Congo who are working in STEM fields in D. R. Congo or abroad. The deadline for applications for this first campaign was 10th March 2020 at 23:59.

Applications

So, what are the results? I'm getting there!

The database currently has 539 women registered in all fields. We've registered 112 applications for scholarships, broken down as follows:

Candidatures bourses

It's interesting to see that the majority of the applications for grants are for research! It should be noted that it was not possible to apply for more than one fellowship. Applicants had to make a choice.

After an initial treatment, 77 applications were validated a priori in fields as varied as

Domaines concernés

As you can see again, computer science and engineering attract many more women in the DRC than physics and mathematics. Let's face it!

After an in-depth analysis of the files and jury interviews, 20 winners were selected! (Drum roll...)

A rigorous selection process

First, a word about the rigorous selection process. I participated in one of the sessions and the jury of scientists set up by BEBUC is strong! We will have the opportunity to introduce them, but let me tell you that they are certainly friendly, but they are not complacent when it comes to deciding (laughs).

Let's go back to our 20 laureates. They come from or are in Bukavu, Goma, Kisangani, Kinshasa, Lubumbashi (DRC), Grenoble (France), Munich (Germany) and Medford, Massachusetts (USA). The youngest is 18 years old and the oldest is 44 years old. We have awarded 7 Bachelor Scholarships, 3 Master Scholarships, 2 Doctoral Scholarships, 5 Event Scholarships and 3 Research Scholarships for a total amount of approximately $59,660 (for a first campaign, that's great)!

Domaines des lauréates

The manufacture of paving stones

The topics these women deal with are fascinating. In geology, for example, we are funding Clarisse's (30) doctoral fellowship in Bukavu. Clarisse is studying the "manufacture of paving stones from gold mine tailings from the artisanal sector of Misisi in eastern DR Congo". This PhD program is under co-supervision of Côte d'Ivoire and DRC. Our Investing In people ASBL and Sultani Makutano's Women in Science Fellowship in the DRC is co-financing this PhD with the African Union's African Centre of Excellence for Mining and Environment.

Archaeology in Kinshasa

We also have Suzanne (25 years old), in Kinshasa, whose master's degree in archaeology and oral history in the plain of Kinshasa we have agreed to finance. This is a master's program in collaboration with UNIKIN-University of Ghent (Belgium). Elements from the excavations on as yet unexploited land in the city of Kinshasa will make it possible to reconstruct the history of ancient societies before the colonial period (wow!).

"Why do they include archaeology in the STEMs?" This field offers opportunities for fruitful collaboration with chemistry, biology, engineering, computer science, mathematics and physics. In this program, Suzanne will use technology (drones, remote sensing, GPS), and she will have to take courses on the handling of these techniques and data processing.

And then, would you pass up an opportunity to learn more about the history of ancient societies in the Kinshasa plain before the colonial period? I'm looking forward to learning more! (on this subject, I hope one day to have the opportunity to talk to you about ethnomathematics and ethnosciences).

Envisioning another Africa

I am not going to present them all to you, because we will do so in detail at the 6th edition of the Sultani Makutano in September 2020. Mark your calendars! (If God will ...)

The backgrounds of these women scientists are impressive and touching. We have orphan girls who are struggling against all odds to stand out. We have activists who denounce sexual violence against women and children. We have young, ambitious and committed Congolese scientists who are not afraid to envision another Congo, another Africa.

Their successes are our successes

All of these women deserve our time, our attention and the means to pursue their dreams, because their successes are also our successes.

In closing, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to our 20 laureates. And I ask the other candidates not to be discouraged. We will soon be launching the second scholarship campaign and they will be able to apply again. So, if they have not already done so, we invite them now to register on the platform.

See you soon for new adventures on Congolese soil!

Science is fun, join us! 😉

(Well, yes, it's a long read, but it was worth it, wasn't it? 😊)

This post has first been published on LinkedIn. It has been translated in English by Afriscitech.

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