Innovate, Simulate and Collaborate at Assumption Convent

Assumption Convent School’s commitment to developing programming and coding skills for girls was celebrated at an event showcasing the work of its Grade 12 learners.

Malala Yousafzai, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner famously said, “Every girl deserves to take part in creating the technology that will change our world and change who runs it.”

Programming and coding skills are foundational for diverse fields across the modern workplace. They offer the ability to solve complex problems, innovate, simulate and collaborate. Yet females are still woefully underrepresented in fields like IT. This even though girls and boys are equally successful at school level.

In 2019, 16.6% of the IEB IT NSC candidates were male compared with 3.6% females, echoing a familiar theme in the global IT industry. The average achieved by each gender does not differ by more than 3% with girls outperforming boys in 2018 and vice versa in 2019.

Addressing the imbalance

At Assumption Convent School we are focussed on addressing this imbalance and are committed to developing programming and coding skills, not just for the girls at our school but girls and women in the larger community.

With this in mind, Assumption hosted an event to celebrate our grade 12s’ IT matric projects by inviting them to demonstrate their 2023 IT achievements. Grade 11 students were encouraged to attend to gain insight into the working required for an IT Practical Assessment Test (PAT).

Grade 12 student Kiara Krchnavy had this to say about the event, “Throughout my matric year, I spent many hours developing my PAT. The IT showcase allowed me to share my PATs. From the feedback I received, I discovered my PAT can be improved.

The event also served to promote IT and to give grade 12s an opportunity to receive valuable feedback from industry leaders, representatives from tertiary institutes and IT alumni on successfully navigating a career in the sector.

“Attending the IT showcase enlightened me on the expectations for my own IT PAT project next year, offering valuable insights and ideas,” said grade 11 student Lily Cullingworth. “It was a fantastic opportunity to witness the diverse range of projects and talents among fellow students, fostering a sense of community and encouragement in the field of technology.”

Professor Wai Sze Leung from the Academy of Computer Science & Software Engineering at the University of Johannesburg was impressed by the quality of the projects on display.

“It was an absolute pleasure to see projects which were built from the ground up, without over-relying on libraries. Each young lady presented their work confidently and it was affirming to see the real ownership of the work,” she said.

“Where learners were not clear about concepts we asked, they did not hesitate to ask for further clarity and guidance. The documentation was very good and detailed, worthy of a senior undergraduate student! I encourage the ladies to continue developing their programming capabilities further as they have real potential.”

Assumption Convent develops programming and coding skills for girls

Opportunities in IT

A panel discussion on careers in IT was hosted by Angelia Antonie an Assumption Alumni and second year student studying BSc Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Witwatersrand. The panellists included two software developers, Jamie Kench and Maryke Avenant, Delivery Manager at Entelect, Karlheinz Schnelle and lecturer in Digital Arts at the University of Witwatersrand, Hanli Geyser. The discussion was both informative and transformative.

The panel candidly discussed the IT sector in the South African context and explored the importance of self-belief and other traits needed to succeed in the industry, such as remaining grounded, steering clear of ego and the importance of life-long learning. The girls were reminded of the unique perspective and other abilities they could inject into the IT industry if they pursueda career in a male-dominated industry.