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Government Departments Finalise Skills, Innovation Strategies To Support Economic Recovery – Nzimande

HIGHER Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande says different departments are finalising their skills and innovation strategies to support government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

“The Department of Higher Education and Training is finalising the Skills Strategy, whilst the Department of Science and Innovation is finalising the Innovation Strategy,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande said the Department of Higher Education and Training has generated the scarce, critical skills, and occupations in high demand lists to guide programme offerings and student enrolments in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) institutions.

While this work is underway, the Minister said targets are set for the placement of graduates in work places so that they are work-ready for easy absorption into the world of work, given that “the lack of work experience is often the barrier to securing gainful and permanent employment among young people”.

He said that entrepreneurship hubs are being established at Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges to support students to move into self-employment after completing their programmes.

The Minister said both the universities and TVET Colleges curricula are strengthened to be relevant to skills required by the national economy and that of the world.

“This is to ensure that the PSET sector produces world class graduates who, more importantly, are able to participate and grow the South African local economy and help in the local job creation drive and the implementation of the ERRP.

“At various intervals our universities align their study programmes to these national priorities, whilst our TVET colleges are gradually aligning their programme offerings to the needs of local employers and communities,” Nzimande said.

The Minister noted that some of these changes are happening within current programme offerings, whilst many colleges are introducing new occupational offerings that are in demand within their specific local economic context.

“In addition, there has been an extensive review of much of the TVET curricula to make them relevant and keep them current, and this will continue for the next several years. The focus at the moment is on digital and related skills to meet job demands driven by the 4th Industrial Revolution,” Nzimande said.

He added that the Department of Higher Education and Training also initiated different programmes aimed at encouraging young people to become artisans.

“In 2014 we launched the Decade of the Artisan at Ekurhuleni East TVET college which is a campaign that seeks to promote artisanship as a career of choice for South Africa’s youth as well as highlight skills development opportunities for artisans.

“This was aimed at developing qualified artisans to support the South African economy, particularly in light of the successful implementation of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SPIs). The theme of this campaign was “It’s cool to be a 21st century artisan,” Nzimande highlighted.

In 2017, the department started with the establishment of Centres of Specialisation in more than 20 colleges focusing on 13 designated trades.

Centres of Specialisation in the TVET College sector is a programme which aims to inform college differentiation, promote quality teaching and learning, facilitate responsiveness and provide a model for the implementation of Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTOs) trade qualifications at the same time, as it develops artisanal skills.

In relation to artisan training, Nzimande said in the 2018/2019 financial year, the number of registrations was at 29 982. However, due to economic slowdown and COVID-19, the number dropped to 16 218 in 2019/2020 year and is expected to further drop in 2020/2021 year, due to the current pandemic. – SAnews.gov.za

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Big Repetition Problem At Schools in South Africa – Researchers From RESEP Unit at Stellenbosch University

MANY students in South Africa’s school system have had to repeat a grade, placing significant fiscal strain on the education system.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, researchers from the Research on Socio-Economic Policy (Resep) unit at the University of Stellenbosch estimate that more than half of all pupils in grades 10 to 12 are over-age for their grade.

One in five of these students are over-age by three years or more.

The study was conducted across all the nine provinces.

The group estimates that the annual cost of having so many repeaters in the system is between R20 billion and R29 billion, as significantly more teachers are needed to teach a larger group of pupils.

If the 56% repetition rate in grade 10 were to halve, the government could save about R2 billion each year alone, they said.

The government’s repetition policy currently states that no child should be held back more than once in any education phase.

The researchers said this was particularly problematic in grade 10, where more students get ‘stuck’ and only a fraction make it to grade 12.

However, the researchers said that this does not keep repetition rates low and that many schools do not always comply with the policy.

Data published by the Telkom Foundation this week shows the Covid-19 pandemic has also hurt school learners in the critical areas of mathematics and science.

The data reveals that the lack of face-to-face learning under lockdown has seen high-school learners regressing in South Africa, especially in rural areas.

“The Telkom Foundation has been monitoring data from schools we support across the country since 2018,” said Sarah Mthintso, chief executive of the Telkom Foundation.

“Regrettably, we have seen the negative impact of the pandemic – and the unavoidable closure of schools – has had on learning.”

Globally, the World Bank estimates that the closure of schools affected 1.6 billion learners. South Africa was among those countries forced to impose strict lockdown conditions, which halted classroom learning.

The Telkom Foundations initial diagnostic assessments conducted with learners in Grade 9 found that several learners had deficiencies in math and science, many of which were carried from the intermediate phase at primary school, impacting their ability to excel in these subjects.

This meant that the Foundation had to focus on both grade-level and remedial approaches to close the gaps. The Grade 9 learners surveyed showed an improvement from a Grade 3 level understanding to a Grade 5 level before the impact of the Covid pandemic.

“Over the years, we have seen learner improvement as a result of this targeted hybrid approach, however with Covid-19 restrictions and learners missing contact learning time, some have regressed in key areas, particularly problem solving, algebra and measurement,” said Mthintso.

* Business Tech

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COVID-19 Cost of School Closures: Blow For Schools As Gains Made In The Past 20 Years Lost – Motshekga

THE basic education sector has been hit so incredibly hard by COVID-19 that it has reversed the gains in education made over the past 20 years, casting a critical light on everything from equity issues to ed tech to school financing, according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Motshekga held a media briefing to spell out the basic education sector’s response to the impact of COVID-19 on schooling.

“The unpredicted closures of our schools, and the unplanned disruptions to teaching and learning, have resulted in the reversal of gains made in the last 20 years,” said Motshekga.

“Research indicates that lost school days, lead to foregone learning losses. International experience confirms learning losses experienced during pandemics, lead to long-term adverse effects,
including learners obtaining lower overall educational value, and ultimately lower lifetime earnings.”

According to the recent World Bank study, school closures due to COVID-19 have brought significant disruptions to education across Europe and other western countries.

Emerging evidence from some of the region’s highest-income countries indicate that the pandemic is giving rise to learning losses and increases in inequality.

To reduce and reverse the long-term negative effects, the Ukraine and other less-affluent lower-middle-income countries, which are likely to be even harder hit, needed to implement learning recovery programs, protect educational budgets, and prepare for future shocks by “building back better.”

Motshekga said in South Africa, government must also indicate that social distancing requirements, remain a challenge in some schools, but we continue to work with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to explore solutions in this regard.

“No one can deny the resurgence of COVID cases in
isolated parts of the country, which affect our schools. For instance, the Phoenix area in the Umlazi District in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Motheo District in the Free State, are cause for concern,” said Motshekga.

“The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, continue to record high community infections, resulting in the temporary closures of schools. Other than this, the system has remained stable and functional, despite persisting learning losses attributable to the COVID-19
pandemic.”

She said the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met on Friday to consider inputs from stakeholders, following rounds of  consultations, regarding the already amended School Calendar for the 2021 academic year.

“We wish to remind South Africans that the determination of School Calendars, is a statutory process, which involves extensive consultations with the Sector’s critical stakeholders,” she said.

“Three options emerged from the consultations; and these were presented to the CEM for consideration. In the end CEM agreed that the amended 2021 School Calendar MUST be retained as it was from its very last amendment – that the October vacation, will not be interfered with.”

CEM further recommended that the lost number of
school days, should be recovered at District and school-level, but with reasonableness, said Motshekga.

Motshekga said there was new evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), which is a broadly
representative study or survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Africa, that more school-aged children are not attending school than usual.

“It is not yet clear whether this is temporary non-attendance, or may become permanent (dropout)
from schooling. In the long run, the learning losses in primary school, may lead to an increase in dropout, when these children reach the Further Education and Training (FET) Band at Grades 10, 11 and 12,” she said.

“What we know at this point, is that learners with weak learning foundations, begin to drop-out in more significant numbers, as they progress through the Grades. This creates an urgent need to recover learning that has been lost.”

The minister said the first step towards addressing the crisis of lost learning, is to prevent further disruptions to school time, and prevent other learning losses.

“Experts keep on reminding us that children are less
susceptible to COVID-19 infections. Our efforts to introduce comprehensive safety protocols in schools, and the vaccination of teachers and support staff, have created the possibility to keep schools open, and a sustained return to regular attendance,” said Motshekga.

“The second step is to introduce measures to catch-up on the time as well as the teaching and learning that was lost through the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular. We urge parents and all of our stakeholders in the sector, to support our efforts to ensure that education continues without any further delays and/or disruptions.”

* Inside Education

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Employability of Graduates: Four Things That Count When a South African Graduate Looks For Work

FOR many young South Africans, a qualification is perceived to be the passport to a good job and decent salary, opening the way to a better life for them and their families.

South Africa’s private higher education sector has grown rapidly since 1994, when the education system began to expand under democracy. The number and types of private institutions have increased and student enrolment more than doubled between 2011 and 2019.

There are currently 130 registered private higher education providers. These institutions enrol about 210,000 students, and produced more than 42,000 graduates in 2019.

The sector is diverse in terms of institutional reputation, size, ownership, fee structure and student demographic.

In South Africa, the term “university” is reserved for public higher education institutions according to the Higher Education Act. Consequently, private higher education may be perceived as not on par with university education. But there’s little difference between the sectors as far as qualification standards are concerned. All private institutions must be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training, and need to comply with the same programme accreditation and quality assurance requirements as public universities.

One advantage that private institutions may have – because they are smaller – is the flexibility to adapt their offering relatively quickly to meet the needs of the market. Many deliver niche vocational programmes, using industry experts as educators, with the specific intention of producing more employable graduates.

But do they? Between 2018 and 2020 I conducted research into whether this goal was being achieved. I evaluated the opportunities provided by private higher education institutions in South Africa and the employability of their media graduates, specifically.

I found that the percentage of graduates who found employment was relatively high. But the employment outcomes varied between graduates, strongly shaped by personal biographies as well as enrolment choices and options, and mediated by type of institution.

These findings may be of use to higher education managers, educators, researchers and policy makers. Attention needs to be given not only to the knowledge and skills graduates require for employment but also the other factors that give graduates a better chance of earning a decent livelihood and participating in society.

Employability of graduates

The research focused on graduates who studied to work in journalism, public relations, graphic design, creative and visual communication, including radio and television production and broadcasting. These fields are rapidly changing and increasingly digitalised. Participants came from three private institutions – elite and non-elite – and had been in the workplace for between one and five years.

I found that four things counted for employability: the reputation of the institution; networks and connections; experience; and type of work.

A qualification doesn’t equate to a job. Within five years of graduating, 84% of the graduates were working. Yet some – mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds – remained unemployed. And it seemed their opportunities were diminishing.

Having a job doesn’t equate to earning a decent livelihood. Many graduates were underemployed. Some had taken jobs in factories, retail or administration, merely to earn some income.

One-third of the employed graduates earned less than R10,000 ($700) a month, and 11% of those earned below R5,000 a month. That isn’t far off the minimum wage. There was a pattern: most of the low wage earners were black graduates from non-elite institutions.

Experience is essential. Employers recruit from their industry network. Eighty percent of the study participants had participated in some form of internship to build a base of working experience. But the monthly stipend ranged from R2,000 to R4,000 (between $130 and $270), which barely covered transport costs.

This means that graduates who can be financially supported by family take on internships.

Those from poor families are less likely to be able to afford the benefit of these employment-enhancing opportunities and go in search of any job. Hence their disadvantage persists.

An institution’s reputation counts. Employers partner with higher education institutions. They contribute industry-relevant input to the curriculum and teaching, and then recruit directly from the institution’s pool of graduates. Employers admitted that they favour graduates from particular institutions while those from other institutions are overlooked.

Equipped for the real world

Deeper analysis of graduates’ employment status showed patterns of employment were divided along lines of race, socio-economic status, educational background and institution.

These findings are similar to those of studies on the employability of graduates from public universities.

They call into question the value of investing in private higher education, and whether private institutions provide equitable opportunities for all graduates.

The findings confirm that skills, knowledge and a qualification don’t ensure successful employment outcomes for graduates.

Higher education cannot overcome structural constraints such as a saturated labour market, weak economy and entrenched social inequality.

More of the same from institutions, irrespective of the quality of the education, will likely continue to reproduce unequal outcomes.

The need for private institutions in South Africa to take note of this reality is even more important in the context of COVID-19 and the recent social unrest, and the implications of these macro issues on graduates’ livelihoods and lives.

Policies should recognise that some individuals require different strategies, resources and ways of teaching to achieve the same outcomes as others.

Students need to be guided and supported in their choices from the outset, learning how to build networks, gaining real work experience, and preparing for various types of work in a range of contexts.

Graduate preparation must move beyond employers and employment. Institutions ought to focus on enhancing graduates’ abilities to navigate their way in society, to respond to opportunities to work and earn, and to be adaptable so they can thrive in an uncertain world.

–   The Conversation

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A Teacher Retirement Wave Is About To Hit South Africa: What It Means For Class Size

MARTIN GUSTAFSSON|

TEACHER supply and demand is a complex matter. The ultimate aim is to have a teacher in front of every class, now and for the foreseeable future. This also implies an ideal class size. The quality of teachers is obviously important too – and a topic for another occasion.

In South Africa, the ideal class size is tacit, and not explicit, as there are no class size norms. Instead, it is the available budget and negotiated teacher pay which drive the number of teachers, which in turn largely determines the average class size. But there are other factors at play too, as we’ll explain.

If South Africa were to lower the pupil-teacher ratio from the current 30 to a typical middle income country level of around 25, it would need an additional 100,000 teachers. Government spending on schooling is already fairly high, so it would be difficult to pay that many more teachers.

Is the problem that teachers in South Africa are paid too much? We conducted an international comparison, using household assets to stand in for purchasing power. We found that South African teachers’ purchasing power was not that different from that of teachers in other middle income countries.

There is a window of opportunity which has received insufficient attention. Soon there will be a large wave of retirements among South African teachers, peaking around 2030 and ending in 2040. New, younger – and lower paid – teachers will have to take their place. But this opportunity comes with questions around the capacity of universities to rapidly increase the output of teacher graduates.

Factors influencing class size

Around half of South Africa’s primary learners are in classes with more than 40 learners. About 15% are in classes exceeding 50 learners. The averages and inequality are considerably worse than what one sees in countries such as Chile, Indonesia, Morocco and Iran.

What explains the inequality? There are four key factors.

Firstly, though policy distributes teaching posts equitably, not all posts are filled all the time. Historically disadvantaged schools have the greatest difficulty filling posts.

Secondly, the policy doesn’t take classrooms into account. Based on enrolment, 20 teaching posts could be allocated to a school with 15 classrooms.

Thirdly, there’s evidence that poor timetabling and poor use of teaching time result in too many free periods for teachers, and too few classes being taught at any time. This is especially the case beyond Grade 3, where it becomes increasingly common for teachers to specialise in a curriculum subject.

Fourthly, schools permitted to charge fees, which tend to be middle class schools, can employ additional teachers and thus reduce class sizes.

The province a school is in plays a remarkably large role. Schools with similar learner-educator ratios end up with very different class sizes, depending on province. The following graph shows that in primary schools with an educator for every 32 learners, as an example, the percentage of the school’s learners in a class exceeding 40 learners differs vastly. In Free State and Gauteng, this figure is around 30% of learners. In other provinces, it more than double that.

The learner-educator ratios used in this graph include privately paid educators in public schools, so the presence of such educators does not explain the contrast. It seems much of the explanation would lie in different approaches to using teacher time. But this is an under-researched area.

Teacher pay

A number of influential reports have argued that South Africa’s teachers enjoy the standard of living of teachers in a country like Denmark.

We conclude that evidence of sky-high pay among South Africa’s teachers is flawed. It is not just a problem with South Africa’s figures: Nigeria’s teachers are said to be better paid that those in several European Union countries.

We argue that existing international comparisons of teacher pay suffer from two serious problems. First, how pay is defined, for instance with regard to benefits and income tax, is frequently unclear, which raises comparability questions. Perhaps more seriously, purchasing power parity indices are less reliable than what is often believed. We deal with these problems by using household assets to provide what we believe is a more comparable indicator of purchasing power.

Our conclusion that the pay of South Africa’s teachers is in fact not abnormally high substantially weakens the argument that reducing class sizes by paying teachers less, and employing more of them, is a viable or justifiable option.

Teacher retirement wave

It is very clear from the current age structure of the teacher workforce that there will be a large wave of retirements until 2040. The expected surge in the inflow of younger teachers, who begin their careers at entry level salaries, will be large enough to reduce average teacher pay in real terms by as much as 15%, according to one estimate, over a period of just over ten years.

The demographic dividend will not be large enough to increase the teacher workforce by the 100,000 mentioned above, yet with careful planning, and careful negotiation between the employer and unions, one outcome could be a reduction in South Africa’s large classes.

The flipside of this dividend is that universities will need to approximately double their annual teacher graduate numbers between now and 2030.

New research, involving the Department of Basic Education and other stakeholders, on the precise effects of the demographic shifts is set to be released later this year. This will provide another piece in the puzzle of teacher supply and demand.

Tsekere Maponya, Deputy Director at the Department of Basic Education’s Education Human Resource Planning, Provisioning and Monitoring unit, also contributed to this article.Martin Gustafsson is Education economist, Stellenbosch University.

The Conversation

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Over 1 100 COVID-19 Cases Recorded In 350 KwaZulu-Natal Schools, Says Premier Sihle Zikalala

MORE than 1 100 Covid-19 cases have been detected at schools in KwaZulu-Natal in the last three weeks, according to Premier Sihle Zikalala.

“These numbers are increasing daily, and more learners are testing positive. Sadly, the pandemic has claimed the lives of two 12-year-old schoolchildren, as well as a 9-year-old. The Department of Education is intensifying non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce the spread of the virus in schools,” said Zikalala.

Zikalala, who addressed the media on the province’s latest developments, said the provincial Department of Education is intensifying non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce the spread of the virus in schools.

“Cluster [outbreaks] have also been observed in other congregant settings, such as boarding schools, mental health facilities, centres for the visually impaired and old age homes,” said Zikalala.

“KwaZulu-Natal remains the hardest-hit province, with 2 206 people confirmed to have contracted the virus in the last 24 hours, pushing the total to 476 193 since the outbreak.” 

Zikalala said the province has registered 216 754 people aged between 18 and 34, of which over 55 302 have been vaccinated.

“This gives us an average of 7 000 vaccinations among this group per day,” he said.

The province has seen a 33% week-on-week increase in new cases and hospital admissions are on the rise.

“The upsurge in cases has moved from Uthukela, Amajuba and Umzinyathi. Currently, the districts that are recording a higher number of cases daily are eThekwini, Umgungundlovu, King Cetshwayo, Zululand, Umkhanyakude and Ilembe. These districts have for the past three weeks had continuously higher numbers, with eThekwini accounting for more than 40% cases daily,” said Zikalala.

In the last week, vaccinations in the province passed the two million mark.

The target is to ensure 7.5 million people are fully vaccinated, Zikalala said.

The programme has been bolstered by including those who are 18 and older, with 216 754 people aged between 18 and 34 registered and 55 302 of them vaccinated since 20 August.

“We would want to emphasise that, in order to defeat Covid-19, vaccination is the obvious key and most important intervention to save lives. Of course, this must be done in conjunction with non-pharmaceutical prevention measures, such as the wearing of masks, regular handwashing or hand sanitising and social distancing,” he added.

“Our vaccination effort is now in high gear. This week, the province [went] above the two million mark in terms of the number of inoculated persons,” he said.  

“Our target is to reach 60 000 daily vaccinations, which could help us reach our target of 7.2 million vaccinations by the end of March next year.”

* Inside Education

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Scientist And Award-winning Social Innovator, Amanda Obidike: ‘Women and Girls Are Under-represented In STEM’

Life, they say is a series of building, and there is no good innovation without human impact. It takes a certain level of bravery to dare to be different and thrive in the STEM sector. Multi-award winning social innovator Amanda Obidike is one of the women breaking boundaries in STEM globally.

The technologist and scientist is the founding curator of the WEF Global Shapers, Ozubulu Hub and Executive Director of STEMi Makers Africa.

Her role in this position is to provide leadership, strategy management and oversee the design and implementation of sustainable Community projects and STEM Education across 19 Sub-Saharan countries by preparing the next generation of Africans with STEM lucrative skills for Africa’s workforce.

In addition to STEM, she addresses thematic topics on Social Innovation, Data Science, Youth Development, Entrepreneurship and socio-economic policies. In 2020, Amanda received several awards, including the Global Award for Achievement by TechWomen 100 and 30 Under 30 Inspiring Leaders of Africa. She got an opportunity to be trained by IBM in Business Intelligence/Analytics after 8 months. Upon completion, she took the initiative to serve as a knowledge panel in preparing Africans with 21st-century skills and future-focused options for an emerging workforce.

This was her inspiration, her driving force to starting STEMi Makers Africa. She serves as a Mentor in the New York Academy of Science, Cherie Blair Foundation, the 1 million Women in Tech, Global thinkers for Women where she lends her voice, knowledge, and serve as a role model to girls in Africa. She currently serves on the Leadership Team of the 500 Women Scientists, USA and Trustee Board of the MAI Foundation. She shares her inspiring story exclusively with Esther Ijewere in this interview.

Growing up
I never had a background in Technology and Engineering; I have always dreamed of one day leading currency operations in the Central Bank of Nigeria. Growing up, I was a curious, adventurous, and daring girl. I went to different secondary schools cutting across three different geopolitical zones in Nigeria, gave myself to community volunteering, travelling, and learning how to do business.

Inspiration Behind STEMi Makers Africa
STEMi Makers Africa emerged when I suffered underemployment and depression in 2O18. The meaningful and lucrative jobs available required technical skills that I didn’t originally have after graduation. Nigeria also began to transfer major resources and job opportunities to skilled professionals and expatriates due to a lack of competent and domestic STEM workforce. STEMi Makers Africa was founded to address the leaky unemployment pipeline and break the wall of Inheriting fragmented and disconnected education institutions in Africa.

If current trends continue, by 2050, some one-third of Africa’s one billion young people will lack basic proficiency in math, reading, and STEM subjects. Millions will be unemployable and unproductive. To remain competitive in a growing global economy where 96 per cent of jobs are now automated, we are raising African talents and achievement in STEM subjects, and skills of the future by empowering educators, marginalised communities and students to be self-reliant or effectively transition from education to employment.

Impact And Testimonials Since Inception
STEMi Makers Africa is a non-profit organisation that builds diverse African talents with lucrative STEM resources, skills and currently designed a national innovation base that supports key sectors of the economy, including agriculture, energy, healthcare, information and communication technologies, manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

We have maintained one of the greatest strategies in helping 78+ communities in 19 African countries and 30,000+ young people develop job skills, improve educational outcomes, provide opportunities to succeed and we are planning not to leave the younger generation feeling displaced and inheriting a more fragmented world than we live in today.

Through our innovative approach to education and capacity building, we emerged winners of the 2021 Stroeous award for Global positive Impact on Innovative Solution, became a Falling Walls Berlin Engage Finalist for Breakthrough of the Year in the Digital Education category, 2020.

Just recently, one of our Educators who was a recipient to our first STEM Integration training for educators got accepted for a 4-year USA Teacher Exchange Fellowship, which is renewable. We recorded 51 Internship and job positions for our project Kuongoza mentees program alone for 2O21.

Journey So Far
The journey has been rocky, yet tremendous. There are times we get concerned about resources, partnerships, effectively managing operations across other African countries, but we keep pushing and leaving an indelible mark that can one day inspire esteemed organisations to collaborate with us.

Awards And Recognition
I was given the Global Award for Achievement by TechWomen 100, in recognition of leading the way for future generations of tech talent, shaping the future of the technology industry and having a responsibility as a role model to share my experiences, laying the foundations for others to follow in the wake of technology. My driving force as an African woman who was under-employed and depressed is to build an ‘Africa By Us, For Us’’ ecosystem that prepares diverse young talents with future-focused options in STEM lucrative pathways to become more experienced for Africa’s workforce.

As a social innovator, I strengthen competencies, empower the next generation of technologists, engineers, and innovators by training educators with new research-based instructional pedagogy, hands-on resource tools to ensure their students are allowed to solve ill-defined problems, make real-world connections, while deepening their content knowledge and preparing them for STEM careers.

Kuongoza Mentoring Programme
Our Project Kuongoza Mentoring Programme has made significant strides and supported 195O+ women aged 15-35 to access new markets, work flexibly and integrate these learned skills needed for the workplace – after being mentored.

Second, the STEM Integration for Educators as an ongoing partnership with the U.S Consulate General to cultivate a STEM Workforce, streamline STEM Education and refine educator’s instructional pedagogy where students are allowed to solve ill-defined problems, make real-world connections while deepening content knowledge and preparing them for STEM careers. We have further inculcated these educator projects across Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Cameroon.

Representation Of Women And Girls In STEM
Women make up half of the total of Nigeria’s college-educated workforce, but only 11 per cent of the technology and engineering workforce are women. Research shows that girls start doubting their STEM intelligence by age six and continue to lose confidence as classes become less gender-balanced and more intimidating.

Whatever the cause, it’s clear that parents, educators, allies and we as a community must work together to show girls that no subject is off-limits simply because of their gender. Women and girls remain underrepresented in STEM and this is why we combine proper preparation in middle, high schools and universities, offer hands-on resources and opportunities, and provide young girls in Africa with women role models and subject matter experts in STEM.

Other Projects And Activities
Mentoring Support:- Since 2016, I mentor at the New York Academy of Science, Cherie Blair Foundation, Global Thinkers Forum where I offer mentees academic, business support and invaluable life skills to thrive.

Policies:- In addressing policy concerns that revolve around governance and public administration, I serve as Assistant Director in Public Relations to the Nigerian Global Affairs Council.

Children Development and building:- I offer psychosocial development support and community management in the Royalty Children’s Network.
Gender Issues:- I offer pro-bono technology services to women Entrepreneurs, to help them incubate, innovate and commercialize their ideas and also serve on the 500 Women Scientists Team.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
Tobiloba Ajayi is transforming the face of cerebral palsy in Africa through advocacy, counselling, capacity building, referral services, and educator training. I am inspired by the work she does in the Let the CP Kids Learn, a foundation she founded out of a desire to change the prevalent narrative about the intellectual capabilities of Children with Cerebral Palsy.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is showing us that it is possible to dream, and excel. She became the first woman and African to be Director-general of the WTO in March 2021

Melania Trump continues to serve as an ardent advocate for children and devotes her time and efforts to helping young people navigate the many issues they face in an ever-changing society. In 2018, she announced BE BEST, an awareness campaign that strives to promote a world for children based on healthy living, kindness, and respect.

Nuggets On How To Be Successful In STEM As A Woman
* Be fearless. Be free to Dream. Be free to collaborate. Be free to ask questions. Be free to excel and be free to succeed.
* There may be hurdles in the journey but please maintain focus. STEM is a wonderful decision anyone can make. Feel free to reach out to the peers you admire or professionals in STEM who could share their stories, tips and advice that can help you in the field.
* Get yourself a mentor and advisor.
* Volunteer with community led organizations who are driving STEM Education.
* We need more women in STEM fields. ILO stated that Women are 30% more likely than men to lose their job as a consequence of automation and low STEM skills.
* There is a lot we can do in this field for our better livelihood, economy and improving retention of young women in STEM Careers.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
Proverbs 31:10 says, ‘Who can find a virtuous and capable woman? She is more precious than rubies.’ A Woman of Rubies is full of wisdom and strength. She is an enabler, a teacher, a friend, a community mobilizer, tenacious and kind. Yes, I am a Woman of Rubies.

– The Guardian Nigeria

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SA’s Paralympic Sensation, Ntando Mahlangu, On The Fast Track To Stardom

NTANDO Mahlangu won his first Paralympic Games medal at the age of 14.  Five years on from that memorable day in Rio, it’s fair to say that the track and field athlete is confident of turning silver to gold when he limbers up for his two events – the 200m and long jump – at the Tokyo Games.

He will be competing in the T63 category on account of having been born with fibular hemimelia, which causes the lower leg to under-develop, which saw him have both legs amputated at the knee in 2012.

His first event is on Saturday, when he competes in the long jump (second session), followed by the 200m on September 3, both of which will be live on SuperSport.

The South African prodigy may have spent most of the first 10 years of his life in a wheelchair, but he’s made up for it since by embracing athletics and its challenges. His carbon fibre blades have become a natural extension and his affinity for racing gives him every chance to boost his international reputation.

He won 200m gold at the world championship two years ago, but real renown came last year when he featured in the Netflix documentary “Rising Phoenix” that profiled nine Paralympians.

“It taught me a lot, and showed that I’m involved in a huge thing,” he reflected before leaving for Tokyo.

As one of the youngsters of the squad, he looks up to South African veterans like Ernst van Dyk (48) and Tyrone Pillay (41), although he says his early hero was Usain Bolt, like him a sprinter.

Mahlangu mixes up his training – three days sprinting, three days long jump – with just a single day off each week. He also juggles the pressures of school, where he is in his final year at Afrikaans Hoërskool (Affies) in Pretoria. He talks optimistically of perhaps studying overseas next year.

But all his focus for now is on the Games and his plans to gain a podium place.

“I’m going for gold in both,” he said. “I’ve trained well, raced and am injury-free. I’m super-excited.”

Team South Africa is flying the flag high at the Tokyo Paralympics!

GOLD medals for 400m runner Anruné Weyers and long-jumper Ntando Mahlangu
SILVER medal for Louzanne Coetzee (Women’s T11 1500m)

CONGRATULATIONS!

: @TeamSA2020 & @rogersedres pic.twitter.com/DZ4kNtDch7

— Western Cape Gov (@WesternCapeGov) August 30, 2021

By happy coincidence, the charity that gave him his first blades (Jumping Kids) in 2012 now benefits from him – he is an ambassador for them and helps inspire children with disabilities.

He was also one of the ambassadors for US television channel Cartoon Network’s anti-bullying campaign in 2017, “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully”. It was an apt partnership given that he was bullied as a youngster on account of his disability.

“Ntando is a humble and kind person,” says Leon Fleiser, South Africa’s chef de mission in Japan. “He is down to earth even though he is a superstar. I hope that he improves on Rio and continues to be a role model for young athletes.”

Mahlangu has little interest in being compared to other Paralympian sprinters. He wants to carve out his own reality and make his own name.

Given his form and confidence, he has every chance of doing so.

Watch: It was an honour to host an online chat with our Tokyo #Paralympics Gold medal winners, Anrune Weyers who won the Women’s 400m final & Ntando Mahlangu for winning the Men’s long jump finals.

They’ve demonstrated the immeasurable value of hard work, focus & perseverance pic.twitter.com/usdMI0KUMW

— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) August 29, 2021

* SuperSport

Uncategorized

Education Authorities Act To Quell GBV On SA’s University Campuses

SOUTH Africa has taken a significant step towards curbing gender-based violence at institutions of higher learning.

Higher Health South Africa on Friday released a set of instruments, guidelines and protocols that will help turn the sectoral GBV Policy Framework into practical implementation across campuses at institutions of higher learning.

The document containing these protocols was released during a webinar on GBV in the higher education sector.

The instruments give directives to all institutions and management in higher learning to operationalise the necessary infrastructure for a comprehensive response to cases of sexual and gender misconduct, rape and sexual assaults.

This will help turn the sectoral GBV Policy Framework — launched by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation last year — into action through the implementation of guidelines on sexual and gender related misconduct in Post-School Education and Training (PSET) institutions; implementation of the protocol on rape and sexual assault cases, and implementation of the protocol on the PSET Code of Ethics.

Working with judicial and police services, the guidelines and protocols will ensure the reporting of cases; the maintenance of disciplinary systems; safeguarding evidence; provision of rape kits; psychosocial support services and survivor-friendly infrastructure are rolled out across the sector.

Higher Health CEO, Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia, said the GBV Policy Framework pushes every institution of higher education to have structures, infrastructure, systems and controls when it comes to GBV, just as it was done with HIV and Aids, and with current the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahluwalia said the early diagnosis and detection of abusive relationships will only be achieved through education and prevention programmes.

“There is a lot of work that needs to happen… We should also be ready… to intervene… [to] stop GBV on our campuses. For that, we need to put structures, policies, infrastructure, systems, and controls in place [including] safe guarding evidence, should a case of assault, rape or GBV happen on our campuses.”

Ahluwalia said capacity is needed in the form of security, survivor support (including the establishment of safe rooms, psychosocial support), and close partnerships with the judiciary to ensure justice is served.

Understanding threats and behaviour inside institutions

The Representative for UN Women’s South Africa Multi-Country Office, Anne Githuku-Shongwe, said in order to ensure that men and women in tertiary institutions are able to operate freely, one needs to know and understand what the threats are and the behaviour inside and outside the institution.

Githuku-Shongwe said the leadership of every tertiary institution should make it their business to ensure that they do not have cases of GBV under their watch.

From a prevention perspective, Githuku-Shongwe stressed the need to be able to identify norms, beliefs and stereotypes that perpetuate violence in and around universities and colleges.

“We need to understand this… [by doing some] really close profiling and mapping, and conducting targeted conversations and processes [to] ensure that we can actually change the game.

“We need to get inside the head of young men and boys in our institutions to really understand, and provide the support they need to be able to drive this work,” said Githuku-Shongwe.

She said there must be proper follow up, possibly every quarter, to reflect on the work done at institution level.

“We at UN Women are going to stand here to provide that support. We will continue to provide the technical support that is needed to rollout the monitoring of this GBV Policy Framework. We want to continue working with you in coordinating safer cities and safe public spaces…” she said.

Silence isn’t golden 

Chairperson of the Higher Health GBV Technical Task and University of South Africa Vice Chancellor, Professor Puleng LenkaBula, called for a culture of zero tolerance towards all instances of GBV on campuses and society.

LenkaBula said there should be no silencing of the voices of those who are agitating against violence.

“A culture of silence often creates room for this terrible behaviour and violence. Creating platforms for people [address issues] should be something that campuses allow, and they should enable the reporting of sexual violence, sexual harassment, GBV, or any acts that disabled the full participation of [all],” LenkaBula said.

* AfricaNews

Uncategorized

Slain University of Fort hare Law Student Nosicelo Mtebeni Remembered

SLAIN student Nosicelo Mtebeni was remembered at a memorial service at the University of Fort Hare in East London.

Mtebeni was murdered and her mutilated body parts discovered in a suitcase and a plastic bag last Thursday morning on the corner of Fitzpatrick and Fleet streets in Quigney, East London.

Her head and hands were found hidden in a cupboard in a nearby house.

The shocking crime has again brought gender-based violence concerns to the fore, with many from the area calling for the death penalty to be reinstated as a deterrent.

Fort Hare students believe the murder of Mtebeni is related to National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding issues.

They say they have not received accommodation allowances since March.

This is forcing many of them out of privately-owned student housing.

But the university says Mtebeni had received all funding, and it’s also helping other students.

The University of Fort Hare management has, however, condemned in the strongest possible manner the spread of alleged misinformation on social media networks following claims that Mtebeni became destitute and was forced into pursuing an unwanted living arrangement with her murderer are of a fictitious nature and untrue

“In the interest of a well-informed public sphere and based on the seriousness of the allegations levelled against of the institution and its senior management, the university is compelled to respond to these misleading allegations, release further information over student deaths and inform constituents of the UFH’s planned and intended course of action,” the university said in a statement.

“The UFH Student Fees and Financial Aid Office has confirmed that NSFAS payments to Ms.  Mtebeni were duly made and not outstanding in any way..  The UFH also wishes to emphasise that the decision of the deceased for a living arrangement with her former partner dates back to 2020, based on information supplied to the university.”

Inside Education