Miss.Africa Digital Program recently caught up with Ms Thando Gumede, (Chief Executive Officer, BSG and Technologies, South Africa) – BSG and Technologies CPS offers supportive and inspirational environments for young curious minds to learn and grow with us. Our passion for learning means we achieve more than outstanding results. We strive to cultivate self-assured and creative thinkers and to provide an education that is truly relevant to their future. We are an early learning academy, our learners starting programming and robotics from as early as grade R. Our students walk out with the character and confidence to make their mark in this digitalized world, equipped with the knowledge and real-world skills that take them way ahead in the industry they may serve
1. Can you tell us about this project that has applied for the 2022 Miss.Africa Digital Seed Fund Awards?
Based on Science Guidance and Technology (BSGT) is located in South Africa in KZN Province, around deep rural of UMkhanyakude District, in Hluhluwe, KwaMnqobokazi area.BSGT started operating in 2017 as a science and technology Centre that is youth-owned, with the leadership of a young black woman by the name of Thandoh B S Gumede who is passionate about science and technology. She is committed to building a community with a strong science and technology background, with children and youth but mostly women/girls who are computer literate and possess the necessary skills to succeed in this new world of technology.Thandoh hopes to build a competitive community that can think critically and solves real-world problems using Science, Technology, Engineering, Coding, and Robotics skills. BSGT has been working with schools and out-of-school youth in ensuring that the science and technology world is spread amongst them through certain activities that are portraying Science, Technology, Engineering, Coding, and Robotics skills.
2. What are some of the challenges you are trying to address with your project?
Poor performance in maths and science continues to be worrying phenomenon in South Africa. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) shows that poor performance in these fields affects many school children and the future of the country, especially for rural children. In the South African context, this means that the challenges of inequality, unemployment, and poverty will not be adequately addressed. Hence BSGT saw the need to provide high-quality education and training in the fields of technology, mathematics, and science.
The UMkhanyakude District area is very remote with very limited resources, Skills such as Science and Technology skills were hard to find. Yet job scarcity was increasing in numbers, with more graduates with no jobs, Knowing that we are in the 4IR era yet our youth, girls and women have no clue of what this 4IR was and the opportunities that come with Science and Technology skills, BSG then saw it fit to bridge the such gap through some training that is in line with 4IR, such as giving coding skills, robot manufacturing skills, Science experiment, engineering classes to name a few. Though running all these without any support can really be hard as you end up not reaching your targeted goal.
The active participation of Black South African women in the workplace is essential for the achievement of equity and diversity. The lack of participation by black women persists in the workplace. is worrisome. Black women are under-represented in the emerging technological environment in South Africa, An increase in the number of black women with technological skills would enhance their prospects of joining the economy and hence make an impact on unemployment and poverty.
3. How are you bringing innovative approaches to these problems?
Through many hours of hard work, the majority of the content has been digitalized and videos added to simplify difficult concepts. In addition, these videos have been made in the mother tongue of the student which is Isizulu. This helps in enhancing concept understanding from a young age. Women have been underrepresented when it comes to industries, media, and academic sectors, so the first step we did was to have
4. How does it feel to gain international recognition for your work?
When you do something to improve the lives of your communities, it is truly humbling when it is recognized. However, for me what was most touching was when I told my mum of the possibility of an international award for my work, the tears of joy and the pride on her face made all my sacrifices worthwhile.
The recognition from an international organization is overwhelming and makes it even more special.
From a very early age, we crave recognition from parents, teachers, and friends. So strong is our desire for positive affirmation, particularly during developmental periods, that we can even perceive a neutral reaction as a negative one. This continues to hold true as we move into the workplace. It’s even getting more exciting to find out that its not just your family, friends or your country that is acknowledging your work but African Countries, especially for a young girl who originates from deep rural area like myself, this really turns to be very huge for me, it’s encouraged me to work even more harder then before, it’s gives me hope that one day everything shall be well, one day the goal shall be achieved and objectives shall be met.
5. Can you explain why skills for women in tech are so important?
As mentioned previously, to address the gender gap in the workplace.
To help close the digital divide that exists between Africa and the first world.
Due to their experiences, women can bring a fresh approach and offer unique perspectives to meet challenges, solve problems, and design new products. These products and solutions will be relevant and responsive to the lives of poor women, especially from rural areas.
More women needed in technology, because they can provide a more balanced view to female gender and technology sector issues. When only one gender is being emphasised in the academic, media and industry sectors, issues that females can identify and address remain largely ignored.
Besides If nearly half of consumers are women, it should be common sense to have around half of the product manufacturing, marketing and engineering done by women as well. Yet, this is not the case. Statistics shows that men outnumber 72 percent of women in business meetings by a 2:1 ratio. It also states that 26 percent of women reported being outnumbered by 5:1 or more. This alone show a huge gap between two genders, thus more women should be included more in technology matters.
6. What in your opinion should be done to address the digital skills gap in Africa?
• Government should invest greatly in making Wi-Fi available free for poor communities. This is a resource that can greatly change the lives of the youth. As an example having access to Youtube is such an amazing resource where students from the deepest rural area can have access to the latest ideas from across the globe.
• Support for educational projects such as BSGT should be greatly improved. This will allow more skill centers that deals with digital learning for youth and women to be developed.
• If our African Countries can invest more in education, especially in subjects that support STEM to fulfil future job needs, as the research states that STEM jobs still remain unfilled.
• High quality education and training in digital skills is critically important. In order to achieve this you need equipment, infrastructure and trained teachers. Government needs to prioritize funding for these aspects.
• Expand the digital and workforce skills training to students and job seekers.
• Starts initiatives that will focus on delivering digital training to youth, women, technical, vocational education and training (TVET) students with a specific geographic emphasis on least developed countries.
Ms Thando Gumede, (Chief Executive Officer, BSG and Technologies, South Africa)
BSG and Technologies CPS offers supportive and inspirational environments for young curious minds to learn and grow with us. Our passion for learning means we achieve more than outstanding results. Read More