NGO promotes STEM subjects

Some of the almost 80 pupils at the science seminar at Solomon Tshuku Hall, in Site C.

A lot of pupils are not interested in doing science and technology subjects because of the stereotype that they are difficult. However, AmaQawe ngeMfundo, a non-profit organisation that strives to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in previously disadvantaged communities, is working to reverse this perception.

On Saturday September 2, the organisation held a fun and interactive workshop for women, at Solomon Tshuku hall, in Site C, Khayelitsha, where speakers encouraged young girls to study the subjects.

AmaQawe co-founder, Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi, said the seminar was organised to address the lack of women in the science field.

She said her organisation had opted to go around the townships to encourage schools and to change their perceptions about the subjects.

They have partnered with the African Institute for Mathematical Science, Sensor Lab, the University of the Western Cape, BiocomAfrica, the Answer Series and My Child Has Cancer Trust, among others.

Dr Ngece-Ajayi said it was important for pupils, especially girls, to be encouraged at an early age to study science. Having grown up in the township, Dr Ngece -Ajayi said she was fully aware of township pupils’ attitude towards the subjects. She said her organisation was adamant and keen to nurture, motivate, and change these attitudes.

“We will stop at nothing to change pupils’ attitudes towards these subjects. We are working with various organisations and people who are also willing to assist us.

“We have professionals that are with us.

“These are future doctors, engineers, scientists and experts in other fields (the pupils). We cannot fold our arms and watch them while we do nothing,” she said.

Dr Ngece-Ajayi urged the pupils not to let their backgrounds determine their futures. She said science subjects were for everyone.

“They need to know that the subjects offer more opportunities and provide future employees. They need to realise that we lack a lot of experts in the engineering area and other science fields. And irrespective of where they come from, they can do these subjects,” she said.

Another motivator and speaker Dr Nomphelo Gantsho, encourage the pupils to work hard. She said they needed to make their dreams possible. “I believe in three Cs – that is choices, chances and changes. That means one has to make good choices to get good chances and make a change in his/her life. They need to interact with influential people in life too,” she said.

Another speaker, Anathi Kaule, told the pupils that nothing was impossible in life.

She said growing up in Mthatha was never easy, but she managed to educate herself.

“It is about determination. I had it difficult with maths but I had to change my attitude towards it and pass it.

“We need industries and the only people that can do that are these future leaders,” she said.

Grade 12 pupil from the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT), Pearl Fata, said: “I believe that you are capable of anything in life, from changing your family situation to changing your community. Another thing is that in life everything is possible for as long as one works hard. When you work hard everything is possible. I’m going to university to do a BSC degree in chemical science,” she said after the seminar.