Iman and Lamija, the girls who are coding a better world

September has arrived and students are returning to school. The new school year brings old challenges and bright examples of good practice, indicating that changes are possible. Lamija and Iman, ninth-grade students at elementary schools in Živinice and Tešanj, talk about their view of the education system in Bosnia and Herzegovina and about learning from their experience.

September 1, 2022


STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Occupations that are covered by STEM are often in short supply and extremely important for the development of the community, representing the key to strengthening the economy. Due to these facts, when talking about connecting education with the needs of the labour market, one cannot bypass STEM and everything that the education system in BiH needs to improve in order to create opportunities for new generations to catch up with global trends.

With the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, in close cooperation with local authorities, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is implementing the second phase of the project "Economic Governance for Growth" (EGG2). Through these activities, UNDP strives to support community investment in education, entrepreneurship, and innovation. As part of the EGG2 project, significant investments were made in schools throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The investments involve equipping STEM cabinets, strengthening joint activities and education, as well as encouraging innovation and expanding the circle of students involved in sections that encourage research and innovation.

Iman Kurtović (14) from the First Primary School in Živinice is a young individual with numerous talents and interests. From archery and poetry to math and programming, Iman finds pleasure in learning new things. A regular participant in state competitions in informatics, at the beginning of our conversation, revealed her enthusiasm for the possibilities offered by connecting programming with mathematical logic. She wants to bring the world of coding and computers closer to others. Her school, through the activities of the EGG2 project, received equipment that will bring students closer to the possibilities offered by the practical use of knowledge in mathematics and informatics.

Iman Kurtović

„It is important that we open the cabinets for innovation. We need to make technology available to students, so that it is not only during computer science classes - but that knowledge is at hand at all times. That is why it is important to use equipment like this in STEM cabinets for different sections. For example, we can use 3D printers so that children can experience the process, and the development of a model, and learn something new from it. Likewise, we can step towards robotics, motivate a new generation of children, and open opportunities for those who may not have had the opportunity to learn about it outside of their school.”
Iman Kurtović

Iman is proud of the fact that she has great support from her sister and parents on her path to success. They were her inspiration and support in research, practice and overcoming obstacles. Now, she wants her experience to be followed by children who have not had the opportunity to explore the possibilities offered by practical computer science and programming.

"In mathematics, we have a lot of girls in competitions, in informatics not so much. It is important to show that we can connect different things. At first, it was unimaginable for me that I would manage when I first started the programming sections. I first mastered Python (programming language), but due to different rules at the higher levels of the competition, I had to adapt and switch to C++. It was not easy, but with good support, you can overcome all obstacles. In essence, I connect solutions to tasks more easily thanks to the fact that I connect knowledge from mathematics and informatics", added Iman.

Lamija Hadžimehić (14) is a student of the Elementary School "Huso Hodžić" from Tešanj. In addition to regular schooling, Lamija is also a student at a music school in her town. Opening a STEM cabinet at school brought her closer to micro-bit programming.

Lamija Hadžimehić

“To me, STEM learning means experimenting and creating using science, computers and modern technology. It allows us to explore and learn in a much broader way than traditional education. This changed my experience, and now I see learning as fun and exciting. Sometimes it can really challenge you to think in a different way. Overall, I believe this should be the standard of education in every school.”
Lamija Hadžimehić

As part of Norway's support through the EGG2 project, STEM cabinets received 3D printers, smart boards, hexapod robots, and Arduino sets, where each of these items provides dozens of different opportunities for practical learning and exercises.

"There are many possible paths. I think in the future I might become a software engineer, maybe even a doctor, although nothing is certain. After I joined the micro bit programming section, I started to think in different directions, I believe that everything is possible with effort and desire. My advice to young students, from personal experience, is to freely express their ideas and imagination regardless of what others think because innovation requires thinking and a creative mind. If you hesitate to do this, you limit your creativity. I don't want students to force themselves to do anything, but to find ways to make learning interesting, fun and even more practical. If students find something that interests them, let them explore it because that fascination will turn into an even stronger motivation to learn," she adds.

At the end of the conversation, Lamija tells us that from her first encounter with computers, she was fascinated by the way they function and that this fascination has remained to this day. "I have always researched what computers can do, learned about it and found new ways to come up with solutions," Lamija tells us.

The story of Lamija and Iman is encouraging. These fourteen-year-old girls, with their curiosity and openness to a different approach to learning, have set good guidelines in which direction the approach to education in our country should go. With their stories and ideas, the girls from Tešnj and Živinice inspire others, and thus "program" a better and different world.