Twenty-six students and 12 members of staff participated in a clean-up campaign at Mbare Musika organized by Msasa Industrial and Technical College last month.
The exercise was a corporate social responsibility initiative that doubled as an outreach activity to encourage more women to enroll with the college and venture into technical jobs.
Running under the theme, “Embracing the girl child in technical competence skills training, self-sustenance and national development,” the activity fed into the broader conversation of increasing girls’ and women’s access to education and work opportunities.
Principal of the college, Webster Tunduwani said his staff had identified a huge difference between male and female enrollment and decided to be proactive and reach out to potential female students.
“Out of a total of 414 students, only 18 are women. We feel that this is because there is still a general belief that technical studies are for men,” said Tunduwani.
“We also consider that women face many challenges in accessing education. We therefore have made our entry requirements very accommodating. We accept anyone who can read and write,” he added. Innocent Maseko of Ward 3 welcomed the initiative as it compliments his own efforts to improve the image of Mbare.
“The generation of litter in Mbare is very high because it is a central place where many travelers pass through. This clean-up has helped sensitize people about the issue of proper waste management,” said Maseko.
Tunduwani selected Mbare Musika as it is the main bus terminus for long-distance buses and is always a hive of activity. Accumulated litter here would put residents at risk of disease. Councilor Maseko explained that the outreach was also close to youth who run informal businesses based on self-taught skills.
“If the young people who have opened garages and welding workshops could get proper qualifications, it will increase their chances of growing their businesses,” he explained.
Eighteen female students from the college were part of a total of 26 that took part in the activity. Besides sweeping and collecting rubbish, the students also distributed the institution’s fliers and had spirited one-on-one interactions with residents who showed interest.
Ashley Nyanga (19), an auto electrical engineering student shared that she felt that other young women were missing out on job opportunities by shunning technical subjects. “I was the only female at the company where I worked for industrial attachment and it made me realize that women miss out on opportunities by paying attention to societal norms,” said Nyanga
The Mbare clean-up was one of the initiatives instigated by the institution which hopes to increase its female intake by 30% in a wide range of technical courses they offer, including: Mechanical principles, Automotive Apprenticeship, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Building and Construction, and Wood Technology Fundamentals.
Image: Students taking part in the clean-up exercise in Mbare last month.