Rose-Act Saturday School in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township has become the latest full-time global recipient of the Girls4Tech Connect digital programme.
Run by non-profit company Rays of Hope, Rose-Act, which offers extra classes on Saturdays to school learners in and around Alex, is the first South African school to offer Girls4Tech’s new digital programme.
Powered by American payments tech company Mastercard, Girls4Tech is dedicated to preparing participants for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Initially, the international company brought Girls4Tech (not the newer Girls4Tech Connect) to South Africa in 2017, launching at schools in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Suzanne Morel, country manager for Mastercard SA, explains: “Although it started as a hands-on, in-person session run by employee volunteers, Mastercard enhanced access to its STEM curriculum through a new digital learning experience, namely Girls4Tech Connect. The programme has also expanded to cover topics such as artificial intelligence and cyber security.”
Volunteers show young girls that being friendly, enthusiastic, mathematical, artistic, scientific, logical and creative are all skills that connect to a STEM career.
“A lot of girls believe they are not cut out for technology careers and need more confidence. They need to have good role models so they can see they can do it too,” says Morel.
Bafana Mohale, school manager at Rose-Act Saturday School, agrees, adding that STEM skills are important in today’s digital world, adding that the programme enables the girls to explore, create and learn in a fun and immersive online environment.
In the first lesson the girls learnt about all things digital, cryptology and fraud detection.
“Our collaboration will develop a strong pipeline of talent by encouraging girls to embrace the subjects that will prepare them for the workforce of the future,” he says.
South Africa is committed to improving the quality of its STEM education.
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, speaking recently about the importance of equipping learners with skills for a changing world, said: “We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball, about the needs of our learners to acquire new skills for the professions that are yet to be born.”