The headmaster of Acacia School in Jwaneng, Malebogo Moepi believes that the diverse characters of people involved in the Debswana mine’s operations all have a critical role to play.
Moepi, who has been identified as one of Gender Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) activists, considers herself a clog in the big machine that is Debswana.
“It is recognising that although we are different and unique, we all fit together as one big puzzle. It is thus important that we draw from each other to maximise potential and achievement,” she said.
She feels privileged to be nominated as a gender activist, saying that presents an opportunity for her to air views on issues of diversity and inclusion in Debswana.
“This matters as it pertains to all of us and the effective delivery of GDI can bring lasting benefits to all,” she said. She is also proud that the primary school curriculum encompasses STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), which are taught to both genders.
She believes that the inclusion will ensure the learners are adequately prepared for the 4th industrial revolution as well as the global village. To her, diversity is important as it is about recognising and appreciating each other’s differences and value therein. According to Moepi, knowledge of the differences ensures that the team leverages on these differences for the maximum benefit of the team.
Her part in ensuring there is gender inclusion in her line of work means she has identified that within primary education, there are some very clear gender gaps that need to be closed. “For instance, the Pre-Primary school is 100% female staff and the Senior Primary school is predominantly male staff,” she observes. She also states that the notion is promulgated from tertiary, where males who opt to train to teach in the lower section of the school are somewhat frowned on (unconscious bias).
“It is because of this that we often find that we do not have genders spread across the different sections of the school. However, where possible teachers are redeployed to the different sections regardless of gender, provided they are well equipped for these sections,” she highlights. She says girls and boys participate in lessons such as Design & Technology.
Last year, Acacia introduced basic computer programming ‘Coding’ as it is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to introduce and keep girls in STEM subjects. The school will this year also introduce robotics to the school’s curriculum.
Of her own encounter with being put down, she says she overcame that by learning to rise above being put down because of her gender, age and physical strength. “Self-assurance is about knowing who you are and your strengths,” she declares.
Speaking to the theme of the International Women’s Day (IWD) “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” commemoration held on March 8th 2019, Moepi says it calls on all to be smart and innovative to ensure balance across gender and diversity.
“Innovation should have particular emphasis on STEM and the girl child and those with disability,” she says.
She compounds that society has for the longest time made it such that there are certain colors for boys and girls. And the latter has for generations, been portrayed as the weaker/ meeker gender. Moepi recalls some of the nursery rhymes taught at school speak to this citing one that goes, ‘girls are made of sugar and spice, and everything nice’ the same rhyme goes on to say that ‘little boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog’s tails’.
“…the imagery in this is very stereotypical,” she concedes, arguing that stereotypes also affect career choices.
“Girls were for the longest time steered into the softer professions such as nursing and teaching whilst boys were steered towards the macho jobs such as mining and engineering,” she says.
She believes that to achieve inclusion, there needs to be recognition that the differences of the unique characters make up for a comprehensive team that maximises potential and treatment.