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GEM INSTITUTE/GIRL TECH-TALK CONFERENCE 2019 REPORT
VENUE: Examinations Council Lesotho Maseru, Lesotho
11 OCTOBER 2019
The Girl Tech-Talk Conference that took place on the 11thOctober was organized by GEM Institute was a culmination of activities, which commenced in November 2018 inspired by the Africa Code Week commemoration which started in 2016. The main impetus for holding the conference was to bring together actors involved in empowering the girl child at the dawning of the 4thIndustrial Revolution (4IR) and the theme of this year’s maiden conference was ‘Girls in Technology, Empowerment Innovation And the 4thIndustrial Revolution: Empowering girls for a Better Future.’, by navigating the 4IR conversations through showcasing projects, prepared by girls from different schools across the country and panel discussions. The conference also fell on the International Day of the Girl Child. Leading to the conference, a Tech Dinner was held to senstise STEM teachers, as focal persons in identified schools were consulted to for a close partnership through establishing Girls in Tech Clubs.
Training and development: Girls In Tech Clubs Initiative
Training of girls clubs happened in July as part of their first experience in developing projects of their own. The same projects were also identified to be showcased at the conference.
Participants came from schools in 9 districts as representatives of Girls in Tech Clubs namely the following schools in the respective districts
- Mokhothong: St James High School
- Botha-Bothe: Soofia International School
- Leribe: Holy Family High School and St Boniface High School
- Berea: Pulane High School
- Maseru: Lesotho High School, Mabathoana High School,
- Thaba-Tseka: Paray High School, Thaba-Tseka High School and Ntaote High School
- Mohale’s Hoek: St Stephens High School
- Qacha’s Nek: Pope John High School
- Quthing: Masitise High School
- Ministry of Education and Training
- Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO
- Examinations Council of Lesotho
- Ministry of Communication Science and Technology and Lesotho TV
- Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation
- Cabana Solution
- The Hub
- Media Houses: Print and Radio
- Ba Re E Ne Re Literary Arts
- Lesotho Science Math and Teachers Association
- South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) African Perspective Channel 404
Participants to Conference Proceedings
- 170 people attended theconference, 130 were female students from all of the 9 districts and 15 high schools from the lowlands and mountain areas. The rest of the audience and podium members consisted of scientists, media professionals, GEM institute associates and the interested public.
- Was the conference opened by anyone special? For example, a government minister
- A representative of the Ministry of Education and Training Mrs Mabakubung Seutloali (CEO Secondary School) delivered an official note to open the conference
- Miss Mpeo Leisanyane a Programme Coordinator gave remarks on behalf of GEM Institute.
- The Minister of Communications Science and Technology Chief Thesele Maseribane gave an inspirational speech to the girls participating and provided insights about the Ministry’s work engaging girls in STEM fields.
Who were the main speakers for the conference?
- Schools Representatives
- Girls in Tech Clubs representatives from different schools gave addresses about their taking part during the conference by presenting their technology projects.
Public Sector and Public Sector Agencies
- Dr Litsabako Ntoi: CEO Examinations Council of Lesotho
- Teboho Tsilane: Secretary General Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO
- Mabataung Rabolinyane: Department of Youth Representative
- Moliehi Sekese: The world’s most innovative teacher 2019 in Lesotho. Examination Council of Lesotho
- Mmaboitumelo Khalala: Robotics Specialist and practitioner
- Ms Bonang Makafane and Mrs Thato Ntlhoi Rampai: Lesotho College of Education
Private Sector Partners
- Lesotho Science and Math Association: Mr. Bobby
- Lebohang Kompi Cabana Solution
- Lehohonolo The Hub and
- Linoe Segoete of Bare E Ne Re Literary Arts and GEM Institute Board member
What positions and key points did the key speakers hold?
Speakers’s Tech Corner
- The Ministry of Education and Training and Lesotho National Commission alluded to their efforts in supporting the development of STEM in schools with particular attention for girls to take an active part so that they are not left behind.
- Girls are still held back in their technological abilities therefore empowerment is important, and needs to be increased and if supported, girls can do as much as boys can, gender is not defining a child’s capabilities or interests
- Integration of technology as a way of life needs to emphasized and encouraged in schools
- The CEO Examinations Council promised to support girls willing to consider science and technology as pathway for career development
- The Minister Communications Science and Technology made an indication that Young Technology Innovation Center has been marked to be established in Lesotho. He also indicated that GEM Institute and the Minsitry of Communication Science and Technology should have signed an Memorundum of Understanding before the end of October as a commitment to support efforts in advocacy and practice in bridging gender digital gap for equality.
- Participants were highly inspired by conference
- Confidence levels of the girls when addressing conference audience was impressive
- For most girls who attended the conference was their first experience in conference participation
- Participants expressed that this kind of conferencing should be on an annual basis
- More support is needed to bring more girls to the conference
- Some participants have expressed that the conference should be opened up to the Southern Africa Region to give girls exposure to what and how other countries engage their girls
- Some participants have encouraged that girls should be original and creative when developing technology projects
- The conference received tremendous support specifically from Examination Council of Lesotho which took the responsibility addressing accommodation and transportation of girls from their different districts. The Ministry of Communications Science and Technology also responded under an emergency call to provide conference participants with lunch. Cabana Solutions has remained a supportive sponsor from the time the conference was being planned.
- We are grateful for all important stakeholders including the Ministry of Education for facilitating for schools to participate in the conference. The Principals, teachers and learners who remain our constant partners. We also in particular are thankful to the Office of the CEO –Secondary Education. Lastly, the support we received from Equal Digital Skills Fund made it possible for the girls especially in hard to reach and rural Lesotho to receive training to strengthen Girls In Tech Clubs in schools. The capacity building contributed to their participation at the conference.
- Postponement of the conference from August to October resulted in some companies withdrawing sponsorship
- Some departments which promised to support with transport pulled out at the last moment because of their office engagements
- Some companies have promised to deliver their sponsorship after the conference. We are following up with them
- Two schools did not participate and we are following up with how they ended up not participating
- One of the conference participants was attacked by people known to GEM Institute during conference proceedings.The incident caused trauma to students participants. GEM Institute is taking responsible steps regarding the matter.
- Mrs Khalala was awarded a certificate of appreciation as the best teacher in Robotics
- Mpho Letima was awarded a certificate of appreciation for her efforts in advocating for digital equality for girls in Lesotho by Lesotho Science Math and Teachers Association
- We are following up with ECONET and Standard Bank Lesotho, which promised awards for the participating schools.
Schools’ Participation and Exhibitions
|NAME OF SCHOOL||PROJECT NAME|
|1.Lesotho High School||The Mole
Friction Heating Bottle
|2.Pulane High School||Nappies disposing machine|
|3.‘Mabathoana High School||Automatic Light Switch|
|4.Masitise High School||Breaking the Bricks Game|
|5.Morija Girls High School||Robotic Obstacle Sensor|
|6.St James High school||Toilet Indicator Device|
|7.Holy Family High School||Clap Light Switch|
|8.Pope John XXIII High School||Temperature and Humidity Monitoring System|
|9.Thaba- Tseka High School
Paray High School
Ntaote High School.
|Fire Detecting Alarm System|
|10. Sofia High School||Gas Sensor Detector
Door Lock Device
THE YOUNG, BREASTED AND THE MIGHTY
Pessimism and cynicism are the lenses preferred to look to our women. Or black people because in all fairness. When development breaks take place in technology, stock markets and better social innovation for human life. A Woman is not the first thing that pops to mind. Women catch up to be part of.
Lately there is a surge of young women intent on making their mark in the space of social innovation. They are fearless in challenging the status quo. The likes of Bare E ne re, a story telling and educational platforms that pushes the imagination of Basotho through generations. Nala Community Market a go to monthly market where up and coming brands by young Basotho find a safe space for visibility, appreciation and income generation. SWIFT-Code a techonlogical movement of young women driving learning how to code across the country, establishing Girls Coding Clubs in Schools across the country. Bold and Fearless, disrupting in iequality is no longer just talk. It’s a reality as we slowly chip aways the hallmarks of oppression, suppression and inequality among Basotho.
Stories once upon a time by the fire have taken a sharp turn as a writivism movement across Lesotho. Story telling by Bare is now swag, hip and the it of sharing stories of struggle in the era of youth bulge and unemployment, the stories of perpetual inequality of gender and economy. Classicism and intense intolerance of race, age and gender.
The bravery of the new age breasted ( Khofu tse matsoele) as one infamous Lesotho leader would attest amidst ululations. Be aware they have not changed form, they are still breasted but fearless, gogetters, competitive with a cutthroat, edgy and innovative social solutions ever imaginable. Their silence does not mean they are not there.