News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday July 22nd 2019

Girl power boosted

The recipients of the first Girl Power awards. Photo: Fadela Slamdien/WCN

Nine grade 11 girls from Mitchell’s Plain are the first recipients of the Girl Power awards. The awards are a mentorship programme aimed at providing grade 11 girls from disadvantaged communities a first class tertiary education in mathematics, science and technology and exposure to some of the best female scientists in the field.

The young women were officially named at an award ceremony at the Southern Sun Hotel in Newlands on Tuesday. Attending the event was Premier Helen Zille, Education MEC Donald Grant, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Dr Wilmot James, parents and teachers.

James, who heads the DA-inspired programme, told the award recipients they could use the opportunity to take charge of their life.

Jawaahier Peterson, one of the programme’s mentors said: “This is an excellent programme for girls who have fallen through the cracks of impoverished communities…and to get them into male-dominated careers.”

The Girl Power programme is a Science and Technology Education Awards programme for young women from Mitchells Plain. Every year over a period of five years, ten grade 11 girls from Mitchells Plain will be chosen for the award, based on academic skills, and levels of drive, ambition and resilience.

However only nine girls were chosen this year as a further suitable candidate could not be found.

The nine awardees are Erin Boonzaaier from Portland High School, Zoe Harris,Nuraan Rhoda, and Ziona Slamat from Oval North, Makiah Karlie from Spine Road High School, Farrel Saul and Jeralda September from Lentegeur Secondary School,and Tamara Truter and Melissa Ashlin Williams from South Peninsula High School.

As part of the programme the girls will be provided with the opportunity to visit the Netherlands during the September school holidays, where they will be exposed to female scientists in the field.

The girls will also be mentored throughout their matric year and their undergraduate degrees at UCT, UWC, Stellenbosch or CPUT. Although guaranteed funding is available for undergraduate studies, the girls will still be encouraged to apply for scholarships. “We will hold your hand but we will also encourage independence,” said James.

Zille who spoke in her capacity as DA leader, said the project was “all about creating opportunities for young people to be the best they can be”.

“You can’t have freedom if you don’t have opportunity,” said Zille.

The award recipients said the mentorship opportunity would hopefully inspire other girls from Mitchell’s Plain to persevere and study further.

“This is a good opportunity for girls in our area…This is an opportunity to empower ourselves and to do the same for our community as lots of girls drop out of school and don’t think of their future,” said Nuraan Rhoda from Oval North who intends to study civil engineering/environmental studies at the University of Cape Town.

“This is a great opportunity as girls don’t have many opportunities especially in science,” said Jeralda September, who hopes to either become a chartered accountant or mathematician and to pursue her studies at Stellenbosch University.

“I can serve as a role model in my community as there are lots of dropouts because of teenage pregnancy and gangsterism. Young people are more inspired when people their own age do something good,” she said. – Fadela Slamdien, West Cape News

Tags: cput, DA, girlpower, Mitchell’s Plain, UCT, uwc

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