Miss.Africa Digital Program recently caught up with Ms Nomso Kana, Programme Director, Taungana Africa, Taungana is a movement that empowers rural African high school girls with the opportunity to access and explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship & Mathematics (STEM). Taungana seeks to create a supportive ecosystem that encourages sustained female student engagement in STEM. She speaks about their program in our interview below
1. Can you tell us about this project that has applied for the 2019 Miss.Africa Digital Seed Fund Awards?
– Taungana Africa is a STEM movement, a registered non – profit that seeks to bring learners from rural and extremely disadvantaged schools to the same level of engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Mathematics (STEM) as their counterparts in urban and advantaged communities .
Taungana has applied for a $5 000 grant award from DotAfrica to conduct coding camps in their annual STEM Expo and Excursion programme.
2. What are some of the challenges you are trying to address with your project?
– The movement is addressing the insignificant number of girls retained in STEM in rural high schools, gender equality in STEM roles, digital illiteracy, high unemployment in rural areas, access to sound STEM careers and inexposure to future skills.
3. How are you bringing innovative approaches to these problems?
– The STEM expo, industry excursion and entrepreneurship bootcamp is a way of introducing a new way of learning new skills for the selected candidates. An opportunity to tap into resources that are usually far fetched from their locations of learning.
– The program offers mentorship from female professionals in the STEM fields, this gives the students an open relatable exposure to leading scientists learn on how they remained in STEM.
– The program also offers links to tertiary education sponsorships both local and international universities.
4. How does it feel to gain international recognition for your work?
– It is an honor to receive such recognition as it validates our work that we do with passion, we believe in empowering the next generation of scientists that are conscious of their environments and apply STEM to improve their communities. The international recognition will enable the movement to gain more from the
broader global scene.
5. Can you explain why skills for women in tech is so important?
– The importance of tech skills for women starts from a young age, women should not be subjected to stereotype-toys, there should be a reversal of societal behavior so that young girls are enabled to interact with technology from a young age.
– In order to succeed in future jobs, women need to have a well-rounded skill set that includes the soft skills, as well as technical and digital skills. Technology skills are crucial for women especially in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, the age of artificial intelligence. Many digital products, algorithms that are for women are designed by men who are not acquainted of the natural behavior of women, this produces low reach for women to engage with technology and widens a gap.
6. What in your opinion should be done to address the digital skills gap in Africa?
– African nations must begin to turn their youthful population into a dividend by ensuring skills development is their top budgeted priority, practical and research and development skills.
– A creative use of mobile phones to administer digital skills must be applied. Institutions of learning must use 80% of technology so there is fast adaptability.
– Africa must adopt the one laptop per family principle so that digital literacy becomes a family learning initiative, young girls and boys learn faster when they see their family members engaging with technology.
Ms Nomso Kana, Programme Director, Taungana Africa
Taungana is a movement that empowers rural African high school girls with the opportunity to access and explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship & Mathematics (STEM). Taungana seeks to create a supportive ecosystem that encourages sustained female student engagement in STEM.