GABORONE – The Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Trust and Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) hosted a mentorship program for Girls Excelling in Mathematics and Science (GEMS). The 18th of November 2022 registered the culmination of the program which featured a prize-giving ceremony for the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics(STEM) projects in which the girls were engaged in. The 2021/22 GEMS program accommodated female senior secondary students from Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi Senior Secondary Schools, Matsha College, Mahupu and Tsabong Unified Secondary Schools. These were students majoring in pure (single) science and aspiring to go into STEM professions and careers.
The GEMS mentorship program seeks to promote the participation of young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hence the program by providing a prospect for the girls to flourish in STEM subjects. The two organizations collaborated to promote gender equity in access to STEM educational opportunities.
In giving her remarks at the ceremony, the BIHL Trust Chairman, Ms. Ngwatshi Enyatseng said, “The environment that BIUST has built encourages science and mathematics, and it is wonderful to see young girls pursuing STEM in all of its manifestations. This activity is essential for teaching female students to experiment, think critically, solve problems, and persistently ask why and what comes next. This is a wonderful gesture that will encourage female students to extend their views and embrace a growth mindset. This prospective approach aims to support girls’ advancement and reinforce the idea that skills can be acquired rather than remaining constant and unchangeable. As the BIHL Trust, we strongly believe that gender equity and the empowerment of women are fundamental towards working to achieve an inclusive society and sustainable economic growth.”
In concluding her remarks Enyatseng highlighted that, the essence of the program is to create environments that encourage girls and help them know that science careers are within their reach. As these girls excel in the STEM space, they will foster legacies from the grassroots that other young ladies will emulate. The GEMS program is one way of improving livelihoods in society using educators who are in a vantage position to assist in nurturing a growth mindset and dispel stereotypes that discourage girls from becoming scientists and mathematicians
The program was being hosted against the backdrop of an economy that is transitioning from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one, driven by technological advancement. To register significant progress in this regard, emphasis should be made on issues of inclusiveness of women in science-related careers.
The Deputy BUIST Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Professor Shemang, in his remarks, emphasized that “To boost the growth of technological innovation in the nation, the STEM culture must embrace diversity and inclusiveness, particularly of women. For research and innovation to advance, it is essential to attract and keep women in STEM fields. The importance of fostering STEM innovation and STEM-based industries in a developing country cannot be overstated. These sectors of the economy are crucial for development. Our goal at BIUST is to generate top-tier research and innovation in the fields of science, engineering, and technology that will foster a diversified knowledge-based economy and industry growth. The gender gap needs to be reduced in order for this mission to be completely realised and eventually closed.”
The BIHL/ BIUST collaboration on this initiative was born from the firm believe that the GEMS mentorship program will groom change makers, who will in the future also successfully and collectively tackle the task of empowering those that come after them.