Researchers across the world predict a growth in jobs for fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

This change requires that any nation’s youth obtain specific skills and be provided opportunities to understand how they can best be prepared for the changes in workforce skill requirements.

Lack of STEM-related skills will negatively impact women and minorities’ chances to compete for employment, wages, and leadership in all professional fields.

It is therefore important for leading businesses and education groups to team up to help develop the underrepresented population’s potential to become professionals in areas that are essential to our nation’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Changes in today’s workforce, along with expectations for job growth in STEM fields, require that our youth obtain sophisticated skills and support in these areas.

BasaliTech – a local organisation –  is one of the organisations aiming new initiatives at increasing the number of young girls entering the pipeline for entry into STEM fields.

In this interview with The Night’s Watch this week, Setsoto Hlohlomi, an IT Support Specialist at ZTE Corporation South Africa and Co-founder of BasaliTech, explains the mission of her organisation.

Below are the excerpts from the interview with The Night’s Watch.

Hlohlomi: BasaliTech is an organization that aims to bridge the gender gap and increase female participation in science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) through science and technology training (currently introduction to programming, website development and electronics/robotics) and mentorship (pairing them with industry professionals to provide a support network).

It also aims to improve science and technology education for all children, male and female by innovative and exciting projects and initiatives to get them started at a young age (Tech Kids Sessions) and to provide access to needed technology resources to help them excel in science and technology education through the mobile lab initiative.

Why girls and children?

Our focus is on girls so that our sisters, nieces and aunties who grew up thinking that science and technology is for boys/men can learn that they can take part too, as their intellect can too impact society and the nation for the better. And to break the vicious cycle for females who are intimidated by the current already low participation.

Children are the future and we believe that introducing science and technology to them at a young age, will spark an interest in both girls and boys which may lead to a balance between the males and females that will participate in STEM in the future, as the stereotype will have been broken while they are still young and curious.

Our Initiatives which are free unless stated otherwise to help raise funds to reach disadvantaged girls and children:

  1. Girl Code Camps: With the current alarming gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the aim is to encourage girls to partake in STEM activities. With this initiative the primary focus is to introduce young girls to science and tech through training such as programming basics, introduction to website development as well as showing them diversity in the field of STEM by including introductory electronics and robotics to get them interested in joining STEM related courses and consequently STEM related careers.
  1. Mentoring Program: So what happens after interesting girls and getting them into STEM related courses? We have also realized that the dropout rate is higher for females than males and therefore with this program we take a female in a STEM course and pair her with an established female professional in a STEM field. The mentor is meant to provide academic and personal advice and to use her knowledge of diversity on the field to help the student make informed career decisions
  1. Tech Kidz Sessions: We believe children are the future and nurturing their minds at a young age could prove beneficial in the long run. This is where we introduce young boys and girls to basics of science and technology through fun coding, electronics and basic robotics sessions. As indicated it is to get both boys and girls alike interested in STEM and maintain the balance in STEM participation for future generations.
  1. LabsForYou: Several schools lack the benefit of computer and science labs within the school premises. This is where this mobile lab initiative comes in to take labs, currently computer and physics (preparing for biology and chemistry) to schools to ensure that students have practical knowledge which will help them understand more concepts better. This may also increase their love for science and technology as they see the fascinating things science and technology can do. We can either provide equipment for the subject teacher to lead the demonstrations or our team of professionals can be invited as guest teaches to lead demonstrations based on the list of labs that will be provided by the school before the day of the labs or experiments. NW

BasaliTech is always looking for sponsors and donations. Their contact info is (+266) 57177749, email address: info.basalitech@gmail.com and website is https://basalitech.org

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