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e4 introduces ‘Girls in STEM’ programme

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The e4 Team at the e4 Diepdale Secondary School Computer Centre – one of the schools participating in the e4 STEM programme.
The e4 Team at the e4 Diepdale Secondary School Computer Centre – one of the schools participating in the e4 STEM programme.

Fintech specialist e4 has introduced a ‘Girls in STEM’ programme, to provide girls in under-privileged areas with the support they need to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related careers, post-matric.

Officially launched this month, the after-school programme is designed to pique girl learners’ interests and motivate them to take up STEM-related subjects in Grade 10.

Cognisant of the gender imbalance in the science and technology industries worldwide, and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, e4 collaborated with Melisizwe Computer Lab Project, a non-profit that provides schools with computer labs and IT skills training, with the goal of uplifting under-privileged female youth and addressing the shortage of female participants in STEM careers.

The programme introduces female learners to STEM concepts in Grade Nine, the crucial year before maths and science are dropped by girls, as they are viewed by many as boys’ subjects.

The initiative aims to bring much-needed resources to society’s most vulnerable and marginalised group – young, previously disadvantaged females.

Ntombi Mphokane, e4 HR and transformation executive, explains: “With the rise of tech in today's society, it is crucial that we invest more into STEM education for girls to be able to pursue a sustainable and meaningful career path.

“We are committed to addressing the digital gender divide and developing the next generation of young women leaders as the driving force behind digital innovation.”

e4 is a technology company specialising in digitalisation, and uses an omni-channel platform approach to offer clients a range of digitally-inspired services and solutions.

With the digital age upon us and technology ever-changing, Mphokane says people are being left behind due to a lack of access to computers and associated skills.

“Many students have no access to computers and matriculate without knowing how to use a computer, or how to type out a CV and apply for employment. That is an issue that will only grow in time if not addressed now.”

The programme is recruiting girls from two high schools in Gauteng that Melisizwe Computer Lab Project previously worked with.

The girls are selected based on their attitude and aptitude, and are given technical training in science, maths, engineering, end-user computing, software development and robotics.

According to Candice Kern-Thomas, founder and director of Melisizwe Computer Lab Project, partnerships such as this are imperative to change the status quo. “With youth unemployment at record highs and black females being the most vulnerable, we have to start investing in the right initiatives that have an actual measurable impact. We need more corporates to invest in the future of the youth, particularly in townships and rural communities, so the cycle of poverty can be alleviated.”

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