Botswana International University of Science and technology (BIUST) held a week long workshop at BIUST campus to mentor Girls Excelling in Mathematics and Science (GEMS).
Speaking to The Patriot on Sunday last Thursday in Palapye, Director of Pre-University Academic Programs (PUAP) Dr Haniso Mothabane said they engaged students from schools that are far from developments or technology, and will be monitoring their progress until they complete secondary education.
Six girls were picked, each from Mahupu Unified Secondary School, Tsabong Unified Secondary School, Matsha College, Gantsi,Shakawe, Maun Senior Schools and Swaneng Hill Senior School for the week long mentorship workshop. Dr Mothabane said one of the goals of GEMS is to address an imbalance where boys dominate when it comes to students who pursue tertiary education at university pursuing STEM subjects. “We are dealing with that imbalance, how do you motivate the girl child so that they can also believe that they are equally capable, hence why we started GEMS about 4 years ago,” he explained, adding that they want to dispel the myth that science is for men only and/ or the super intelligent.
The visit to the university by the young girls was part of activities under the program as the GEMS had been working with mentors who are mostly young women who are accomplished in STEM field throughout the year.
Gantsi Senior Secondary School teacher Blondie Brooks praised BIUST’s initiative which aims to empower the girl child. “It is a gap that I believe they have realized and they are trying to reduce it if not close it, the gap when you are looking at the STEM and a girl child, or the careers of Science and a girl child, you will find that their numbers are low compared to their male counterparts,” he said, adding that the program is presenting possibilities that maybe as schools they cannot be able to present to them.
Brooks said the program is boosting, empowering and presenting possibilities to the young girls.
For her part Katlego Kehumile, who is a Form 5 student at Mahupu Unified Secondary School said she had gained inspiration and aspiration from the workshop as it has exposed here to different careers in the STEM field. “I have always wanted to be a neuroscientist, but now I am actually interested in more than that, so I will take a leap of faith, that maybe I can become something better than what I have always dreamed to be,” she said.
Kehumile said she drew inspiration from her mentors, that women are able as much as men are when it comes to STEM field. Kehumile further inspired other young women to stop doubting themselves and pursue STEM careers. “ We are capable, if they actually knew that STEM history trace to women, we might actually be smarter if we do not doubt ourselves and who knows maybe we may turn this world around for the better,” she said.
Nata Senior Secondary School’s Christine Munyaula pointed that she has also always wanted to be in the STEM field and therefore the workshop is an inspiration to go forward and venture into the field. She indicated that she always wanted to pursue mechatronics engineering and meeting her mentor who is a mechatronic engineer elevated her desire.
She encourage the girl child go head-on on what the like, be it in the STEM field or whatever program “ STEM field as we know is male dominated, so we have to stand up as young ladies and show them that we can do it,” she said.