Towards promoting access and empowering the girl
child in stem education: The practical experiences of
the girl child students, studying electrical engineering
at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic
Nyama Chanetsa.
• This paper examines the practical experiences
of the marginalized Girl Child students
studying Electrical Engineering at Joshua
Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic
• The study comprises of ten female students,
five (5) females in their first year, and two (2)
in their second year on industrial attachment
and three (3) females in their final year at
• The Girl Child has been marginalized for quite
a long time world over. She has been viewed
as a person of no value in the family and
society as compared to the boy child
(Chimedza and Sithole 2000).
• Zimbabwe in correcting gender inequalities in
our country introduced The National Gender
Policy in 2004 (The National Gender Policy
• The policy goal was to eradicate gender
discrimination and inequalities in all spheres
of life and development.
• Since 2004, significant progress has been
made in Zimbabwe in promoting gender
equality between men and women / boy child
and girl child
Introduction cont
• The 2011 Human Development Report revealed
that the Gender Inequality Index (GII) was at
0.583 compared to an ideal zero.
• As a way of promoting and empowering the Girl
Child in (STEM) the government of Zimbabwe
adopted the policy on Inclusive Education which
provided equal educational opportunities to all
students regardless of gender, colour, race and
creed (The National Gender Policy 2013-2017
Introduction cont
• The adoption of National Gender Policy 2004, The Bill of
Rights Chapter 4 on inclusive education by nations changed
things for the betterment of the Girl Child.
• The adoption of National Gender Policy 2004, The Bill of
Rights Chapter 4 on inclusive education by nations changed
things for the betterment of the Girl Child
• This practice of empowering the Girl Child is also in line
with the Millennium Development Goals, Youth
Empowerment Programmes and the Technical and
Vocational programme in secondary schools which support
the Girl Child to be given equal educational opportunities
as the Boy Child.(The National Gender Policy 2004, 2008
Introduction cont
• Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic as an
institution of higher tertiary implements
Inclusive Education to all aspiring students in
their Teacher Education and Technical
divisions and enrolls both the Girl Child and
the Boy.
Introduction cont
• The students enrolled for the above courses
should have passed English, Mathematics and
Science at ‘Ordinary Level.”
• The students studying electrical engineering
follow a 1-1-1 model of training.
• The models allows the students to spend one
year at College acquiring knowledge and skills
on electrical Engineering.
Introduction cont
• During the second year the students go for
industrial attachment. .
• It is during this period that the students put the
theory learnt into practice
• . As they do their industrial attachments, they
work with experienced personnel (mentors),
foremen, supervisors and College Lecturers
following the Industrial Trade Testing Department
(ITTD) criteria of assessment specifications
• Although a lot of effort has been put in place
towards promoting access and empowering the
girl child in Stem Education in Technical Colleges
through the National Gender Policy, the Bill of
Rights in section 4, what has been put in place for
so that they don’t experience some
challenges in the male dominated fields?
• Are their needs taken care of, since most of them
lack the electrical engineering background?
• The following research questions were used
to come up with the girl students studying
electrical engineering’s practical experience;
• How are girl students studying electrical
engineering accepted in their communities.
• Are the students provided with any form of
skills and counseling? ?
• What are some of the challenges that the girl
students face as they pursue their course?
• The ultimate rationale is to come up with the
whole society approach in stem education,
which is friendly to the girl child students
studying Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics, as the ultimate beneficiaries in
the provision of quality STEM Education in
Technical Colleges .
• Provide lecturers with information on how stem
education is being implemented at Joshua
Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic.
• Assist stake-holders with information on how the
girl child should be handled and treated when
they are at college and on industrial attachment.
• Give policy formulators the chance to say their
views on assistance which should be offered to
students studying STEM in Colleges and
• The research was primarily qualitative and it
adopted a case study design.
• The design afforded the researcher to study
contemporary phenomenon within its real –
life context.
• The population in this study consisted of (10 )
ten electrical engineering students at Joshua
Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic from 2011 to
2014 in their first year at college, second year
on industrial attachment and in their third and
final year.
• A convenience – purposive technique was used in
this study. Five students in their first year were
sampled, two (2) in their second year and three
(3) in their third and final year to make a total of
ten students. All these students in the three
categories have some form of practical
experience in the study. These were hand picked
following personal judgment or discretion of their
worth for study (Maree 2007)
• A mixed questionnaire with both open ended and
closed items were used to collect evidence from
• Semi – structured interviews were also adopted
to solicit relevant research data from face- toface encounter. The validity and reliability of the
instruments was achieved through generation of
representatives’ samples, objectives and detailed
data collection and interpretation and
Data presentation, analysis and
• The discursive (narrative) method was used in
qualitative data analysis and interpretation.
• Information from respondents was recorded
without alterations.
• On the issue of girls rated as inferior, 30%
disagreed and 70% strongly disagreed. The girl
students said the male students had a wrong
perception about them basing on the cultural
stereotypes. They said male students first
thought we were not competent. We proved
ourselves on the in-class tests that we wrote. We
proved to be better than male students. All the
student‘s marks ranged from 70% to 80%.The
respondents said they were inferior in the making
and not in the doing.
• Response on practical experiences
 In their first residential year the students raised the
issue of change in life pattern since most students were
not exposed to College life.
 At College, the girl children were regarded as adults
who are able to formulate life goals, and learn new life
skills and personal care routines. This has been found
to be a challenge since most students said they
depended on their parents for personal upkeep.
 They said they experienced some challenges when they
ran short of money.
• The male students had negative attitude
about them and thought they were
• They said whenever we reacted negatively on
the male moves, they ended having negative
attitude on us.
• They said this sometimes affected their
• They said they were abused by males
• The other student said males need to
understand our strengths and weakness. If
this is done, this can take us a long way in
encouraging us females to fit quite well in our
• The Girl child‘s practical experiences shows that
they were trying their levels best despite some
challenges that they encountered in their first
year and second year on attachments.
• It was observed that the girl child needs
assistance from the time they are enrolled. The
assistance can be in the form of Transitional
counseling, behavioural therapies, information
counseling, and enhanced skills. Lack of these as
part of their training made the students to
encounter some challenges.
• The College should provide the following
forms of counselling to the girl child for her to
cope with the challenges at college;
• Transition Counseling,
• Behavioural therapy
• Information Counseling
• Enhanced skills in addition to the Health and
Life skills.

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