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Mastercard has announced the African launch of its signature Girls4Tech programme at Sandtonview Primary School in Johannesburg, coinciding with International Day of the Girl Child. Girls4Tech aims to drive interest in and awareness of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) studies and careers among primary school girls aged 10, 11 and 12.

The hands-on, inquiry-based programme connects Mastercard’s payment technology business to STEM principles and shows students that it takes all kinds of interests and skills to pursue a STEM career.

Since its launch in April 2014 in the United States, Girls4Tech has reached 30,000 girls and engaged 1,700+ employees in 17 countries. Girls4Tech hopes to inspire young girls to build the skills they need in STEM to become problem solvers and the leaders of tomorrow. It also aims to ensure that women have a voice in the development of the products and services of the future, including Mastercard’s payments solutions.

“Global stats show that 80 percent of jobs created in the next decade will require some combination of STEM skills. Yet only 30 percent of the science and technology workforce is currently comprised of women,” says Anton van der Merwe, Head of Market Development, Mastercard South Africa. “With this programme, we aim to develop a strong pipeline of talent for the technology jobs of the future and encourage girls to embrace subjects that will prepare them for financially and intellectually satisfying roles in the workforce of tomorrow.”

With three stations based on algorithms, digital convergence and cryptology, the South African workshop brings to life the real-world applications of classroom maths and science lessons. Mastercard employees serve as mentors and role models, and guide participants through the exercises.

From Sandtonview, the programme will move to Cape Town, going to John Graham Primary School on 13 October and Vanguard Primary School on 16 October. Between the three schools, Mastercard volunteers will reach around 270 South African girls. Mastercard is in a strong position to drive STEM education and awareness programmes since its payments solutions are built on cutting-edge science, tech and maths.

“Our curriculum gives concrete examples of how we apply science and maths in a practical way in our business,” says van der Merwe. “By providing real life and hands-on activities for each concept, the programme shows that being friendly, enthusiastic, mathematical, artistic, scientific, logical and even creative are all skills that connect to a STEM career.”

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