There’s a shortage of young people and in particular girls studying Science Technology Engineering and mathematics (STEM). Despite the growing demand for knowledge in STEM, college graduates with STEM degrees represent 2 percent of Africa’s university age population according to 2019 report by International Finance Corporation (IFC) on digital skills in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to close this gap and get more students especially girls to be interested in the subject, the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) in collaboration with its partners developed an initiative to create massive awareness program to promote STEM and career opportunities in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
As part of this awareness program on Friday 14th June 2019, the women wing of the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana in collaboration with Vodafone Ghana Women in Technology spent quality time with students of OLA Girls SHS, Ho to discuss STEM and opportunities in the ICT industry. The women technology professionals drawn from both organizations shared their technology career experience and coached the girls on career opportunities in ICT.
The program started with the headmistress Madam Regina Koffie delivering her welcome address where she gave a brief history of the school and current student population of over 1,900 girls pursing different courses including arts and science. Prior to the welcome address, guests from IIPGH led by the Executive Director Mr. David Gowu were introduced. In order to inspire the students before the main activities of the day, Mrs. Julia Ametorwogo a past student of OLA girls and a Vodafone Telecom engineer introduced the CTO of Vodafone Ghana, Srabasti Bhattacharjee also known as SB. The CTO in engaging the students shared a story of her career journey and emphasized the importance of STEM in the 21st century. “I started my career as an engineer then I joined the army, there I was in charge of communication which was still engineering, then later I joined Vodafone still working as an engineer” SB noted. She also stressed that the students should learn coding and aspire to become software engineers, data analyst and computer scientists.
Then came the actual presentation of the day on the topic: ICT CAREER COACHING FOR GIRLS. The first part of this insightful presentation was delivered by Vodafone Women in Technology Team led by Madam Yaa Afriyie Opoku. She passionately talked about technology as an enabler helping doctors perform surgeries through video calls, telemedicine and farmers learning about the changing weather conditions, prices of products in the market among others. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were also discussed with emphasis on quality education and a call to ensure inclusive and equitable, quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all. Yaa then shared with the audience some practical career opportunities in technology and urged the girls to pursue careers such as; Telecommunication, Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Internet of Things the students etc. She then rounded up her presentation by introducing the students to some Vodafone products tailored purposely for student. Vodafone “Bossu”, online learning platform for students to research, and the Vodafone Cash (mobile or online transaction portal) were some products presented to the students.
Part 2 of the presentation followed immediately where Madam Gifty Mottey a past student of OLA girls and IIPGH Coding Administrator shared more insight into The Coding Project an initiative started by the institute to train young people in computer programming and prepare them for the future. She also emphasized the need for the students to embrace technology and enroll in coding lessons which would help them develop critical thinking mindset, perseverance and problem-solving skills. The excited students asked a lot of questions about the various coding languages they should start with and the current locations where the program currently being run. It was explained to them that the program currently runs in Dansoman, East Legon, Spintex Road, Tema among other places. In her concluding remarks, Gifty revealed that the institute is in discussion with management of OLA girls to introduce coding program in the school.
At the breakout session, Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) dominated the discussions and the girls asked a lot of questions about coding, computer engineering, software Engineering, Telecommunications, information Technology etc. Over 30 women in technology joined the girls in groups where they shared their career journey with the students and encouraged them to prepare themselves for higher education in STEM related courses by learning coding.
The program was drawn to a close and the students used the opportunity to share contacts with the professionals and took lots of pictures with their visitors.
The Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana (IIPGH) is a professional association of over 1,300 members from various domains of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) practice. The Institute is a connector of ICT professionals from Government MDAs, educational institutions, corporate organizations, start-ups, investors and the civil society organizations to create a vibrant ICT ecosystem. The organization aims at using its platform to equip professionals and students with skills in emerging technologies needed for entrepreneurship and employment in today’s fast-moving technological world. In addition, use the expertise at its disposal to advice stakeholders on best practices and public policies that would enable the use of ICT in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).