Vulnerable young women in Lusaka’s Garden compound have been given the chance to broaden their horizons and explore a world beyond their borders thanks to She Talks to the World.
Although the name is a little wordy, this initiative has set out on a mission to create a classroom of young Zambian girls with emphasis on English and computer education, along with hands-on business experience.
Founded in 2015, the not-for-profit organisation has been helping underprivileged young women aged between 14 and 22 in an after-school programme that has recently seen two of its students gain places at the University of Zambia (UNZA).
The rationale is simple: About 46 percent of Zambia’s population is under 15 years old and across the population there are almost a third more females than males. On that basis, young women hold the key to the future development of the nation.
“Our aim is to empower these young women by providing them with some of the skills necessary to succeed in our modern and increasingly tech-based world. Our hope is to help them help themselves in ways that would otherwise be impossible,” explained She Talks to the World teacher Patrick Zubillaga.
“All of our students come from vulnerable situations and many come from fractured homes or are orphaned. The idea of connectivity or a computer for them never existed,” he added.
Now the girls have been able to link to online distance learning courses under the Utah Valley University’s Enactus programme in the US thanks to support from internet service provider Paratus Telecom, which has provided a high-speed connection for the school.
“The instant transfer of knowledge and information is something you can’t put a price on. It’s just invaluable to these girls – and it’s empowering,” explained She Talks to the World director Blessing Mushala.
In addition to teaching the girls baking, needlework, gardening and similar skills, the school’s curriculum includes business management courses that feed into the organisation’s boutique, minibus and bakery businesses to ensure the initiative is sustainable.
She Talks to the World board member Blaine Beckstead explained the philosophy: “As a country, Zambia is part of the world economy. It has to step up and adapt and merge into that superhighway – and technology is the key to that.”
Paratus Telecoms sales executive Janet Mwanza echoed the sentiments saying: “Internet-based technologies have changed the quality and effectiveness of teaching material and have also improved the delivery of education for teachers. High-capacity broadband brings dynamic resources into the classroom, it’s more interactive, personalised and has been found to improve learning outcomes.”
Explaining why Paratus has backed the She Talks to the World project, she highlighted the large proportion of young females in the population and said: “Female empowerment is not just a trend, it is the realisation that everybody has got to be on the same plane if we are to achieve holistic development in this nation.”
“We believe in creating network solutions through pioneering technology, creativity and integrity. By partnering with the She Talks programme, we are giving back to the community through our expertise and creating a platform to elevate these girls to a standard of global competence,” she explains.
Having installed the internet connection, the bespoke business-to-business connectivity company is now exploring other ways in which it can support She Talks to the World as part of its celebrations of seven years in business in Zambia.
She Talks to the World works on the ethos that an educated girl can change the world.