The future of the world, much less South Africa is becoming STEM focused. So the fact of the matter is that should we not evolve with the times and continue to produce less and less engineers, designers and technicians, we are going to exclude ourselves from the global economy. The beauty of most STEM fields is that it is not reliant on nature or natural resources. It is, however, reliant on innovation. If you look at the current problem South Africa faces with draughts and extreme heat, to a farmer, it means devastation; where an engineer or scientist looks at the problem with the goal of finding a solution. Just look at the latest news in space exploration, NASA has started growing vegetables in space and is looking to harvesting natural resources from the moon. We need to start looking further than the problems at hand, and for that we need the a youth with a problem-solving mindset.
That is all very well and wonderful to say, however; currently the odds are stacked against Africa to use this economic evolution to our advantage.
Africa as a continent have launched but a handful of satellites with South Africa towering with a record of three successful launches into orbit.
When we look at statistics where only 10% of the most recent high school graduates passed maths and science with university exemption and every year less and less students even choose to pursue maths and science, we are faced with a sobering problem.
As a continent we have a STEM problem across genders, however only 7% of all STEM related careers are currently held by women. If we continue the path we are on, not only will we have a small pool of changemakers but all of those will be male.
This is why we run a women in STEM programme. We need to start somewhere, and we need to fight for young innovators and scientists. STEM will control the new global economy. It represents the art of innovation and solutions and as a continent we need to jump on that train.
We chose to enforce change with a space programme. Let’s aim high and reach for the stars!