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March 2021 1st edition

Techno Girl opens the door to STEM careers

Written by: Dale Hes

High school girl learners in South Africa are being given a headstart in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), through a mentorship and skills development programme called Techno Girl. Techno Girl graduate Siphokazi Dayimane is on track for a successful career at PetroSA. Photo: UNICEF South Africa

Techno Girl is a collaboration between UNICEF; Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities; the Department of Basic Education and the State Information Technology Agency.

Wycliffe Otieno, the Chief of Education at UNICEF South Africa, explains that the project gives girls from Grade 9 to Grade 11, selected from disadvantaged communities, the chance to take part in job shadowing, mentorship and skills development in the public and private sectors.

“The job shadowing programme provides girls with first-hand, insider information into what their career of interest involves. It motivates girls to develop a personal action plan to study further to secure a job of interest,” says Otieno.

Siphokazi Dayimane (23) from the Cape Flats was part of the Techno Girl programme in Grade 10 and has since gone on to make a success of herself. She started job shadowing at PetroSA in Mossel Bay, and then won a bursary to study a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Cape Town.

“Being part of the Techno Girl programme was a blessing for me; it gave me hope where the future was dark. Not only did I receive a bursary, but I was more informed on career choices and what I wanted to study. The programme groomed me, and it was easy for me to follow my dreams and goals because I have seen role models in the workplace during my job shadowing days,” says Dayimane.

After graduating, Dayimane was selected to be part of the PetroSA Graduate in Training Programme in 2020.

“My dream is to inspire more young girls to become scientists and offer job shadowing opportunities to them when I work at PetroSA. I’m looking forward to showing them that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and trust the people who believe in you. I’m proof that anyone can make it!”

Dayimane is also part of the 100-UP project, a programme that helps school learners from disadvantaged backgrounds to get into university.

*Parents and teachers can find out more about getting learners involved in the Techno Girl programme by calling UNICEF South Africa at 012 425 4700.