The Human Side of Testing: Building Hope in Rwanda

It’s easy to take software testing for granted, especially when facing a challenging software defect or a tight deadline. But imagine if software testing was your lifeline to a career, a chance to support yourself, and a pathway to independence.

ASTQB Director Randall Rice recently trained a group of women in Rwanda and saw first-hand how software testing is not just a career choice, but the basis for hope. Rwanda is a country that struggles with a violent past, high unemployment, and difficult conditions everyone, especially women.

In addition to reading more below, we invite you to listen to an ASTQB podcast about his experience training a class of 48 women in Rwanda.

The training was conducted through the WeCode Quality Assurance Software Testing training program associated with Muraho Technology. Dan Munkittrick, the CEO at Muraho Technology, says the program not only trains the women, but also links them to potential employers. “One of the poverties in Rwanda is the poverty of opportunities,” Munkittrick said. This program seeks to solve that problem by nurturing women into future leaders in the tech sector.

Below are excerpts from Randy’s blog about his experience.

In early October, I traveled to Kigali, Rwanda to conduct an ISTQB Foundation Level course to forty-eight women who are part of Muraho Technology’s internship program.

Class photo

 

In 1994, Rwanda experienced a brutal genocide as a result of civil war. In a period of 100 days, over 800,000 people were killed. After order was restored, the country was eventually able to “reset”. It is a remarkable story of forgiveness and struggle.

Today, Kigali is regarded by many as one of the safest and cleanest cities in Africa. Interestingly, tech start-ups are popping up all over. However, the unemployment rate is around 80%, which makes any job opportunity valuable to the residents.

The educational system has traditionally been based on rote memorization. Women in particular have experienced situations that were not supporting of learning at deeper levels, and in some cases placed obstacles in their efforts to successfully complete classes.

Class photo 2

Laura Stupin Helping to Provide Cultural Context

 

As Muraho Technology’s CEO, Dan Munkittrick states, “We have designed industry tailored training which includes job readiness through competency-based learning.  We have designed our learning approach to a growth mindset.  We strive to empower these women to become the next leaders in companies, as well as in Rwanda.”

 

Class photo 3

 

The class was formed of 6 teams, with eight women in a team. I have been teaching software testing for 30 years and I can’t recall ever experiencing a training experience where the people were so engaged and functioned as true teams.

What I saw were teams (not groups) that truly cared and supported each other. If one person struggled in an area, the team was there to support them.

Muraho chose the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) as the exam provider because of the exam quality and the orientation toward western scenarios and language. They were also able to take advantage of the ASTQB’s Volume Purchase Program of exams.

Those who scored high enough on the sample exams were allowed to sit for the actual exam. The majority of those taking the exam passed.

 

Class graduates photoGraduates with their ISTQB certificates from ASTQB.

 

Some of the individual stories were inspiring and humbling. One lady walked 90 minutes each way every day to attend class – not just for the week I was there, but for the entire curriculum of training. Another rode on the back of a motorcycle 90 minutes each way every day. Another lady contracted malaria during the week I was there and had to be sent home to get treated and recover. Thankfully, she did return and complete the program.

On the final day of the class, the ladies presented Mike Penick and me with beautiful wood carvings and a kilo of Rwandan coffee (which is awesome). It was very humbling to think that these ladies each contributed out of their lack to show their appreciation. That experience really touched me.

 

Class photo 5
Class photo 6

 

Their response was overwhelmingly happy and I was glad to know they had successfully performed the software testing process on a live application – twice. Just to put it in context, on Monday, we were performing their very first test that was mainly exploratory.

 

Class photo 7

 

Throughout the week, we had dignitaries and news crews visiting to see what was happening. Everyone that observed the training knew that something unique was happening. I was happy to be a part of it.

A couple of weeks later, Dave Stevens interviewed me for the ASTQB podcast to discuss the training. His final question was, “Do you plan to return?” The question kind of caught me by surprise and I was rather unsure really how to answer it. I was a little non-committal. However, the question really got me thinking, “Yeah, Randy, what will you do?” I realized that I was in a unique place, in a unique role, for a purpose.

Now, I’m all in. I have been asked to return in March of 2019, which I have accepted.

Another question I am asked is, “What do you get out of this?” Yes, I received some compensation for the training and expenses, but it is far less than I would receive in any other training. It takes around 50 hours each way to travel the Kigali, so it’s not an easy trip, either. However, the greatest gain is the joy in serving and seeing how it can change someone’s life. For me, there is a spiritual motivation as well. I feel this as part of my calling in life.

How You Can Help

As I have been tell this story, people have been asking me, “How can I help?”

Please take a close look at the picture below. You will notice the poor condition of the computers these ladies are using for training. To be successful in their careers, they need better computers.

 

Computers

 

I have started a gofundme page to raise the funds to buy 50 new laptop computers for Muraho Technology to provide to the ladies with a level of control to ensure the computers are used for the intended purpose. And, that’s just the start. We will need many more computers. A gift of any amount will help change the life of one of these ladies. I also appreciate the sharing of the page to spread the word. If you are able to help – Thank You!

Do you have a story about how software testing certification from ASTQB has helped someone to take the next step in their life? We invite you to let us know. Send us an email at info@astqb.org. We would love to share your photos, videos, and inspiring stories.

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