Gauteng MEC for Education, Barbara Creecy urged girl learners to take up careers in Science and Technology when she addressed the Girl Learner Seminar Programme at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, today.
As part of Women's Month celebrations, Sci-Bono has brought 1 600 girl learners from schools around Gauteng for a two-day Girl Learner Seminar. The invited learners will interact with women role models from industry and academia. There will be presentations and small group discussions aimed at encouraging and educating the girls on how to set personal goals and tackle some of the obstacles they might face in developing future careers.
Creecy urged girls to plan their post-school careers and to work hard to achieve success in the world of work. Highlighting the importance of science and technology to the economy, she encouraged girls to consider careers in this area.
She also called on girl learners to take advantage of the many opportunities in the science and technical fields in South Africa, because of the serious lack of skills in these sectors of the economy. Creecy promised that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) would support girl learners who strived to perform well despite their backgrounds.
"There are many examples of women and young girls that have succeeded despite obstacles, because they are focused and determined to beat the challenges. What you achieve depends less on your background than on how hard you are prepared to work to be successful, despite the obstacles you may have to face," Creecy said.
She added: "There are plenty opportunities available for those learners who are prepared to strive for success. The GDE offers bursaries to the top learners in all our priority schools. The Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA) has many additional bursaries available for learners. So, if you make the effort, we will be ready to support you and assist you to go all the way."
Creecy said that it was worth noting that in 2011, there were 14 316 girls who wrote the physical science exam. Over 57% passed and 653 girls achieved distinctions. In 2012, the number of girls writing physical science increased to 15 297 and the pass rate improved to just under 69% with 600 distinctions.
Creecy said that there should be no doubt about girls' abilities to excel in the sciences. The successful women scientists that were participating in the event were proof of important contribution that South African women are making to science. The next generation of women in science will have the opportunity to do even more.