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UNICEF South Africa’s “Techno Girls” mentorship programme enters growth phase

Zoliswa Yoyo is one of 35 South African girls participating in a mentorship at INVESTEC, an international specialist banking and financial group, as part of UNICEF's Techno Girls programme.

PRETORIA, South Africa, 10 February 2006 - For 16-year old Zoliswa Yoyo from Ndyebo Senior Secondary School in rural Motherwell District of the Eastern Cape, the fast-paced, complex work environment of a motor car assembly company contrasts starkly with the tranquil setting of her village. Zoliswa’s exposure to the working world was until recently limited to her school teachers and those from her village fortunate enough to have a job.

With support from UNICEF’s Techno Girls Career Mentorship Programme, Zoliswa is gaining first-hand experience in the corporate world in South Africa and learning how the maze of operational divisions comes together to make a company tick.

Zoliswa and 34 other girls participating in the Techno Girls programme spent two days at INVESTEC—an international specialist banking and financial group—where they were exposed to career options in the banking sector, including credit control, fund management and share trading.  This knowledge helps them to better apply their school-based learning and other professional training to the real world.

"Techno Girls has given me the most precious treasure for the future,” says Zoliswa confidently, “I am really grateful for the opportunity to explore a workplace in which I might make a career.” 

Bukiwe Fanta, Gender focal point in the Eastern Cape Department of Education says, “It is critical for the girl child, particularly those from rural areas, to be exposed to scarce career fields - more so in the arena of maths, science and technology."  Fanta adds, "Techno Girls helps by identifying talented girls from deep rural areas of the province and catapulting them into the world of real business for unique learning experience.”

More companies are coming on board

Techno Girls was launched in July 2005 jointly by the South African Government and UNICEF’s Girls Education Programme in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Plans are underway to extend this programme to Limpopo and other provinces as UNICEF and its partners continue to mobilise more career mentorship partners from the South African private sector. 

So far, 18 Limpopo province-based organisations committed to mentor first intake of girls early this year. Additionally, 15 Limpopo girls will benefit from bursaries offered by MINTEK, a leading specialist in mineral and metallurgical technologies.  UNICEF says the programme should significantly scale up during 2006, projecting that the number of participating girls will increase to some 300 per province.

“Career mentorship is vital in providing a sense of what the professional world is like and the quality of work expected.  It teaches girls more than any text book could about careers,” says UNICEF Senior Programme Officer Julianna Lindsey, adding, “Girls need both the theory provided in school and the practical application of maths, science and technology that only business can provide.”

UNICEF and its partners will continue to work towards sustaining the Techno Girls programme until the end of 2006, in close collaboration with key government and the private sector that support girls' education and development in South Africa.

UNICEF Techno Girls Partners:
African Rainbow Minerals,
Anglo Platinum,
Budget Rent-a-Car,
Capricorn District Municipality,
De Beers Venetia Mine,
Department of Land Affairs,
Dept of Science & Technology,
First National Bank,
Gijima AST,
Larciano Accountants
Lepelle Northern Water,
Mortgage SA,
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality,
P E Tourism 
Palabora Foundation 
Polokwane International Airport,
S A Institute of Chartered Accountants,
S A Post Office,
Seeff Properties,
Standard Bank,
Umsobomvu Youth Fund,
University of Limpopo,
University of Venda,



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