Bank bridges African tech divide by empowering girls

palesa-ntshongaJOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE importance of technology in our daily lives is undeniable and the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in every child cannot be overemphasised.
However, in most African countries statistics reflect more males than their female counterparts are in technology industries.
Such imbalances are set to be a thing of the past thanks to initiatives by Barclays Africa to bring more females into the
A group of 35 girls from a Soweto township school have been given springboard to their career prospects.
The Girls in Technology (GiT) Youth Programme aims to build the future talent pipeline.
The overall theme of the programme is, “You can achieve your dreams despite your circumstances.”
“We started with girls from mostly disadvantaged households, largely child head homes and motivate them their potential beyond their circumstances,” says Lee-Ane Wyman, Barclays Programme Manager: Young Talent .
Sebesta High School is a Corporate Social Investment beneficiary. There is regular engagement held between Barclays Africa Technology and the school.
Each year, this specific group of girls will join Africa Technology for one week at a time over the June-July and December school holidays, with their first visit taking place the week commencing 27 June 2016.
As means of additional support, a Buddy system has been implemented and a WhatsApp group created.
The buddies are volunteers from Barclays Africa Technology who will work closely with a smaller group of girls. The
WhatsApp group will ensure readily available and instant communications channels are available for the girls.
From a monitoring and evaluation perspective, the girls as well as the school, are requested to provide feedback on their experience of the programme.
This feedback is considered when planning future intakes. The Young Talent team also holds regular engagements with the technology business in order to share ideas and opinions.
In addition to the on-site sessions, the 35 girls from Sebetsa High School, situated in Snake Park, have access to various support mechanisms including mentorship, coaching, bursaries and internship opportunities.
The girls are engaged via the WhatsApp group which was set up in December 2015.
The group is used extensively for the students and buddies to share information and to ask questions. Numerous site visits have been had at the school and there is ongoing interaction with the staff at the school.
Other forms of communication include letters to the parents and the school. The Young Talent team writes the letters.
This is to ensure that both the school and the parents are on board with the programme and are able to share in the
journey with the girls.
From a business perspective, the Young Talent Team has regular engagement sessions with the buddies and key stakeholders.
Before the girls arrive, the team socialise the agenda with the buddies and discuss roles and responsibilities.
The team also tries to keep the buddies involved in the planning of the event so that they have a sense of pride in what is delivered.
E-mail correspondence is an additional medium used to share important information about the programme with the business.
The Young Talent team has had an overwhelming response from the business reveals Anne .
“Many people have expressed their interest in the programme and are getting involved. During the June intake, a total of 27 buddies who supported us over the week,” says Wyman.
Sophia Dower, Barclays Programme Manager: Strategy Enablement: Africa Technology, says the company believes strongly in this programme.
“Through continual investment, we believe that we will see many shining stars coming from this group,” adds Dower.
-CAJ News

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