The Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm, BIHL Trust in partnership with the Botswana University of Science and Technology (BIUST) will launch its second cohort of the Girls Excelling in Mathematics and Science (GEMS) mentorship programme on April 28th 2023. This is done as part of their continued contribution to making Botswana’s economy to be both technologically and data-driven.
Launched in 2021, the GEMS mentorship programme is an interactive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programme aimed at encouraging and empowering girls towards excellent performance in mathematics and science subjects at the secondary school level, which performance paves way for them to pursue professions and careers in the STEM field. To date, the GEMs programme has matched seventy- two (72) girls with seven (7) mentors who are in STEM professions and careers.
The BIHL Trust and BIUST hope to increase the number of participants each year. The girls enrol in the programme at Form 4 and are kept through Form 5. This mentorship program has targeted some senior secondary schools in Kweneng, Kgalagadi, Gantsi and Northwest regions. The schools are namely; Maun Senior Secondary School, Shakawe Senior Secondary School, Ghanzi Senior Secondary School, Matsha College, Mahupu Unified Secondary School and Tsabong Unified Senior Secondary School.
BIHL Trust Trustee Esther Kanaimba Senai reflecting on the GEMS programme notes, “We want young girls to have role models with whom they resonate with, if possible, can share similar stories. For women to inspire and show them that they too can achieve any goal they set their minds to achieve and invest the required hard work.”
To achieve greater inclusion of women and girls to embrace diversity and equal opportunity, BIUST holds a view that, to boost the growth of technological innovation in the nation, STEM institutions should embrace diversity and inclusiveness, particularly of women. For research and innovation to advance, it is essential to attract and keep girls and women within the STEM field. The importance of fostering STEM innovation and STEM-based industries in a developing country cannot be overstated. It is therefore imperative for Botswana to generate globally recognized research and innovation in the fields of science, engineering, and technology that will support the growth of a diversified knowledge-based economy and for this to happen the participation of the entire population is critical.
“As the BIHL Trust, it is our endeavour to holistically include the girl child in various opportunities to combat pervasive gender parity. We believe it is our corporate responsibility, to offer the Motswana girl child the chance to help her develop a positive beaten path towards equal opportunities to education and to engineer impactful legacies”, Kanaimba Senai further added.
Through the GEMs mentorship programme, the BIHL Trust aims to continue to invest in the future of the girl child, particularly with the rising growth in technology-based jobs over the past three years and the growing need for research. It is therefore imperative to invest resources and time to build the female and groom them into the technology and science-based workforce of the future.
This collaboration comes at an important time as Botswana transitions towards a knowledge-based economy, which will advance the greater emphasis on being more inclusive of women in science-related careers.