Six South African female game changers; Ridhwana Khan, Lindiwe Matlali, Emily Pather, Chiedza Mnguni, Dr. Fanelwa Ajayi and Danai Nhando, have just completed the 5-week TechWomen Mentorship Program in Silicon Valley. This extraordinary group of women was selected out of 4000 applicants to make up the 100 selected participants representing 20 countries from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S.
The Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, that brings emerging women leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) together with professional counterparts in Silicon Valley for a mentorship and exchange program. As part of the program, the South African team members worked in leading Silicon Valley companies including Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Veritas, Adobe and Pacific Gas and Electrical.
This experience provided these women with access to networks in the world's leading Tech companies, as well as resources and knowledge with the goal of empowering them to reach their full potential and become role models for women and girls in their communities.
Country teams were also tasked to develop an action plan to solve a specific challenge in their home country. Teams from 20 countries pitched their impact projects to a panel of high profile Silicon Valley executives with the top 5 teams winning a seed grant of $3,000 towards the implementation of their impact project. Each action plan was rated based on the potential for impact, sustainability and scalability.
Team South Africa gave an enthralling pitch and won the $3000 seed grant for their innovation KasiMaths, a low-cost, scalable, high impact tutor driven after-school Maths Enrichment Hub in low-income communities.
Our goal is for every student that goes through the KasiMaths program to fully understand that Maths is everywhere, Maths is fun and Maths is essential.
Of the 33 511 students in 2016 that scored 60 percent or more in maths at Matric level, only 1 700 -- 5 percent of all students were from low-income communities.
KasiMaths leverages on key community partners and is designed to help students from underprivileged township schools develop mathematical skills, gain confidence in their mathematical abilities, increase their enjoyment of mathematics and in the long-term, help students to pass mathematics at matric level and take up STEM courses at tertiary level.
"We are taking a holistic approach to teaching maths that demystifies all aspects of maths and shows how it relates to the everyday world with fun interactive tools such as robotics, games, videos and chemistry experiments," said Dr Fanelwa Ajayi.
"Our goal is for every student that goes through the KasiMaths program to fully understand that Maths is everywhere, Maths is fun and Maths is essential!"
As they begin their journey to transform maths education in South Africa with KasiMaths, the team aims to set up the first KasiMaths Hub in 2018 in Alexandria Township in Johannesburg and will be taking in their first cohort of 30 students in the first half of the year.