May 28, 2019
First and foremost, having girls involved in these fields will result in industrialization of our economy and this will also create employment.This is because new industries will emerge from STEM skilled girls in the future.It creates globally competitive Zimbabwean girls who can be able to land for a job in any country.This will help the government to achieve ZIMASSET( a national blueprint) objectives of industrialization and general transformation of the economy in the future.
The Zimbabwean government has placed great emphasis on STEM education since 2013, with the aim to produce a skilled workforce and promote industrialization.This call comes after the economy nosedived due to closing down of industries,massive brain-drain and lack of investor prospects.Generally, the economy of a country becomes more productive when there are a large number of skilled workers.This is so because skilled and educated workers are efficient.This initiativewill result in an improved economy due to the rapid research and development. Research and development is vitalbecause it’s an effective tool of developing and growing a business. For a business to be successful innovative ideas must be birthed through research and development. Countries which strongly emphasize on research and development have a greater chance in economic growth and productivity.
When women are allowed to dominate in these fields they will go on to contribute to the economy of our nation through businessand other economic activities.This implies that they will have high incomes which will help fight poverty through adequate feeding, clothing and provisions for their families.This means that there are chances of them having higher living standards.Also, the country will have more workers, thus, fewer people will be unemployed.Having fewer unemployed people will reduce the country's poverty rate.
Reduced human trafficking and illegal migration
In the past few years, human trafficking for sexual exploitation has increased on an alarming rate.This is a gross violation of human rights because it has destroyed lives of many innocent people.With reference to the U.N Inter Agency Project on Human Trafficking, women are vulnerable to trafficking when they are uneducated and poor.In most cases, the victims are from LessEconomicallyDeveloped Countries, who are then forced to work as prostitutes under brutal conditions in a foreign land.The drivers of human trafficking include poverty, lack of employment gender based violence,perception of better living standards elsewhere, poor social and economic structures.Therefore, I personally think that if girls are provided with access to quality STEM education and are allowed to lead in these fields , it will go a long way in addressing human trafficking as girls are the most targeted by this social menace.This is so because they can pursue STEM related careers which are and will be highly paying in the future.Thus, they will enjoy high living standards , therefore, they will not be desperate to leave the country to go and look for "greener pastures"in other countries.Still on the same note, promotion of STEM education will combat poverty and unemployment which are chief drivers of human trafficking.For example, a friend of mine saw an advert for a job in a certain countryand when she got there that company did not exist and she was sexually exploited.
In addition,since industries will evolve from STEM skilled girls,it meansemployment is created and people will not cross country borders illegally,thereby, risking their lives during this process.Mostly, people migrate illegally because they have a perception of a better life elsewhere. Illegal migration will cause pressure on resources in the country that theyare going in search of "greener pastures".Therefore, to end illegal migration in the future girls will have to be fully included in STEM fields so that we will have a lot of industries evolving,thereby, creating more employment for people.
Women empowerment and gender equality
Participation of girls in STEM fields will empower them both personally and economically.They will gain respect, dignity and honor in their communities.They will earn higher incomes , thus , they will be able to take good care of themselves without anyone's help.Educated women make better decisions than uneducated women because knowledge is power.For instance, they can calculate their monthly family budgets and spend wisely using concepts from Mathematics.Moreover, they will have more knowledge on how to live a healthy lifestyle, therefore, they can make better decisions concerning their diets and general health care.In addition,There will be gender balance as we will have more women dominating these fields just like their male counterparts.
Reduceearly child marriages
When girls pursue STEM careers they are more likely to marry late.This is mainly because of the time demanding nature of STEM subjects.For instance, in Zimbabwe students studying bachelor's degrees in these fields will require a period of between 5 to 7 years at university.The implication is that they will have children when they are ready and mature.As a result, children are well taken care of as the mother will be ready to carry out her responsibilities as a parent.In addition, it will help reduce problems associated with early child marriages such as high risk of sexually transmitted diseases anddeath of girlsduring child birth.
When girls enter into marriage at a late age, it is more likely that they will have fewer children.Fewer children means that they will be able to take good care of their children as there will be more resources per child.If children are well taken care of , the vicious cycle of poverty is cut.Furthermore, lower birthrates will result in less pressure on resources in the future.Less pressure on resources will reduce effects of overpopulation such as food shortages,desertification, environmental damage,pollution, spreading of diseases and rising conflicts between territories.
Reduced child and maternal mortality
Science education will equip women with the knowledge which will help them reduce maternal and infant mortality.They are more likely to use prenatal medication, go for medical scanning and visit gynecologists more often among other methods during pregnancy.Also they will know the importance of vaccination and will have their children vaccinated on time.Therefore, their children are more likely to survive up to the age of 5.In addition,girls are now engaging in sexual activities at an early stage resulting in most of them having unwanted pregnancies.Due to lack of employment in the country, most of them abort or baby dump.So I personally think, if they are given a chance to participate in STEM such issues like illegal abortions and baby dumping can be resolved.This is because employment for them is created and they will have high earnings, thereby, they will be able to take care of their babies even if it was a mistake.
Low crime rate
Providing girls with the opportunity to pursue STEM careers can be a destiny changer for them, their families and those around them.Investing more in girls' participation in these field will help to shift their minds from crime as they grow up.Instead they will be more interested in science, technology and innovation.This will go a long way in reducing crime by women such as shop lifting and drug smuggling.On the other hand,since their families will enjoy higher living standards,it is less likely that their children or family members will engage in any form of crime.So my point is, if the economy is boosted,poverty reduced and they earn high incomes crime rate will go down in the future.
Improved health and health delivery systems
Educated women are less likely to contract diseases,particularly, STIs and HIV/AIDS.This because science subjects like biology will make them aware of causes,effects and preventive measures of such diseases.Therefore, they are more likely to be careful as compared to uneducated women.In Adding on to that,fully involving girls in science fields will result in a more skilled workforce.This will address the human capital problems facing the health sector of our country.Currently, the doctor to patient ratio is high , resulting in poor services to patients.Some even die whilst they are still in queues, waiting to be attended.
Protection of girls from STIs ,HIV/AIDS and sexual exploitation
Due to poverty and unemployment, they may be little or no financial support for girls by their families.This makes them vulnerable to exploiters.Recently, the Ministry of labour and social welfare rescued 73 girls who were sexually exploited and also reports on such cases are said to be rising.Most men are taking advantage of young girls.For example,last month a girl aged 15 was raped by a 56 year old man and she was given a cellphone and $100 cash to shut her mouth.Therefore, if girls are given a chance to pursue STEM careers moreemployment will be created for these girls and they will have high incomes for themselves.Also,instead of engaging in prostitution at a young age they can go and work for themselves and earn a living.This will also reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs as the girls are young to make informed decisions concerning sex.
Higher chances of creating greenhouse industries
If we have more women in these creative spaces it increases the chances of coming up with scientific and technological solutions to save mother earth.Creation of greenhouse industries rely on skilled and educated citizens.Therefore, by fully involving girls in these fields it means there will be diversity, it means we will have different perspectives on issues and how to solve them. Therefore the morepeople we have in these fields the more likely we are going to have environment friendly technology invented and improved.Creation of green house industry will reduce global warming rates and its effects.
It shapes a better tomorrow
Having girls who arehighly skilled in these fields will allow them to analyze the world around them and make improvements.STEM skills are very vital for them because these subjects are part of our daily lives.Still on the same note,leadership roles require them to use calculations so as to come up with sound scientific solutions.
As I have indicated earlier, having girls fully involved in these fields has got a host of merits for Zimbabwe and the world at large.However, despite a number of efforts by the Zimbabwean government such as free education for STEM students,the implementation of STEM education in Zimbabwe is facing a lot of challenges which I noted during my experience at school 2years back.Some of them include;
Lack of qualified teaching personnel
Due to the economic crisis in the country for the past few years, most qualified teachers have and are still leaving the country in search for "greener pastures".They are leaving for countries where remunerations are better than in Zimbabwe.This brain-drain has left a huge gap especially in the science an mathematics fields.
Shortage of teaching and learning materials
Most schools especially those in rural areas suffer from the lack of science kits an textbooks.The implication is that most of the science concepts are taught theoretically, therefore, students cannot develop other science process skills such as observingmeasuring,classifying,inferring,handling apparatus, recording data,interpreting data,drawing conclusions, hypothesis and reporting findings.As a result secondary schools end up producing half-backed science students.
"Over the years a multi donor fund spearheaded by UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, embarked on a massive programme to revive science teaching in the country.The programme managed to supply about 2 449 science kits to various schools in the country to help boost their laboratory stocks",said the Minister of higher and tertiary education in an interview last year.
However, the kits have not been enough to address the challenges faced by schools especially those in rural schools that are yet to set up proper laboratories.
Lack of awareness and knowledge on the importance of Science subjects
Parents and other stakeholders expressed mixed feeling concerning the STEM education initiative.The problem lies in the fact that most of them they do not know the importance of STEM education.Therefore, I think the Ministry of Education must embark on massive awareness campaigns so that both stakeholders and students will appreciate this initiative.
Fear of taking science subjects from the students themselves
Most students do not want to take STEM subjects because they are believed to be harder and time demanding than arts or commercial subjects.
Lack of proper infrastructure
Majorityof schools do not have science and computer laboratories that allows them to teach pure science and computer practicals.Most schools will end up teaching integrated sciences.The lack of practicals in these subjects will produce half baked students and may discourage them tofurther pursueSTEM related careers.
To sum up, involving girls in STEM fields and allowing them to dominate will result in a better world, with less social and economic problems such as poverty,unemployment.It will also promote innovation and creativity.