January 3, 2019

Women across the globe often hesitate to study and pursue careers in technology. Durr-e-Nayab, a programming teacher at the University of Engineering & Technology in Peshawar, Pakistan, is an exception.

She has always been curious. Her earliest memories are of tearing apart her toys. She imagined herself as an engineer who built programs and designed things.

“I really looked up to my brother, who was an engineer,” she says. “Luckily, my parents encouraged me to follow my interests.”

Nayab opted for a computer science postgraduate degree and began teaching at the Computer Systems Engineering department at UET Peshawar. She is also pursuing a PhD.

Seeing her passion, the university management nominated her for a training offered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) called the Skills for Youth Program (SYP). Through SYP, youth in the critical stabilization regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas learned Information and communications technology skills and were linked to employment opportunities.

Nayab enrolled in Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing & Switching and CCNA Security training. Thanks to the hands-on experience with networking, she is now able to explain concepts to her students in a more engaging way. “SYP was different because we were taught as future instructors,” she says.

Aside from becoming a better teacher, Nayab also has the option to work in the field. “There is a difference between theoretical knowledge and practicality, and this training has helped me bridge that gap,” she says.

Soft skills were also a focus of the SYP program. Nayab said the sessions on public speaking were particularly helpful, and today, with both subject knowledge and confidence, she often takes the lead in faculty meetings and is seen as a candidate for a senior leadership position.

Nayab is the first woman in her family to pursue a technical education. She is an inspiration for her younger cousins and nieces. It’s clear that Nayab is not only breaking stereotypes, she’s bringing change to society around her.

Written by Zara Basharat, Country Director of Communications and Public Relations, World Learning Pakistan