Rukshar Khan – SPC Analyst Programmer, Educational Quality & Assessment Programme (EQAP)
Describe your work?
As an analyst programmer at EQAP, I design, develop, and implement computer programs, which are solutions to real-life challenges. I am the only female developer in EQAP’s Information Technology (IT) team. In essence, my work is about designing and developing information systems solutions to help improve efficiency and effectiveness of the workplace or operations in question. The work could range from the simple to the complex; from training a system’s end-users to developing a new application from scratch.
Why did you decide to work in the science field?
As a growing adult, I always saw girls in communities and school taking up subjects in the humanities and ignoring science. The main perception held back then was that career opportunities in science was mainly for men. But I wanted to be different and explore other challenging areas. This was my initial reason for choosing science. When I became a full science student, learning became even more exhilarating, especially with Chemistry and Biology. As a result, I wanted to pursue a career in medicine.
However, my career choice changed when I received a scholarship to study in Malaysia. In the university where I studied Software Engineering, I was one of three women in a class of about 100 students. This was where I really felt the gender disparity. I did not let that unsettle me though. I immersed myself into studies. The experience of learning how to code, debug, and build software programs pushed me beyond my comfort zone. The best thing about programming is that it allows you to build things on your own. It can be a simple program or an
ambitious one. The job itself requires a lot of dedication and precision. One needs to be highly motivated. I spent countless late nights just to learn more. While it was tough, it was incredibly rewarding and continues to be.
What impact does your work have on the Pacific region?
The team develops educational assessment systems for SPC member countries that have requested this assistance. One of the successful applications is the Pacific Schools Information Management System [PacSIMS]. PacSIMs is a web-based application built on new technologies and is hosted on cloud. This means the application is readily available and processes exam results in a matter of seconds. The application is very secure and has a centralised database. The application is modular-based and has holistic dashboards and reports based on student, school, and country level. A good example is the South Pacific Form Seven Certificate (SPFSC) – the regional seventh form exam administered by EQAP. PacSIMS greatly improved the processing of the exam results since it was adopted two years ago. It was a milestone achievement because the results were released on time.
Advice to other young women or girls on getting involved in STEM?
To every young woman out there who aspires to be an IT developer, I leave you with this: You can be whoever you want to be. Do not let the world define you. If you really have the passion, are true to yourself and remain committed to your goals, it will turn out that even in the most difficult situations, you will discover within you a capacity to create a solution.