The International HUG Foundation
Focus on Girls
Uganda has embraced science, technology and related areas as cornerstones of economic growth and development of the country. For young people, careers in these areas offer productive employment and opportunities to develop innovative solutions for the country’s pressing problems. However, for young women, participation in these economically lucrative sectors is especially limited.
It’s time to improve the path of girls in Uganda so they can participate in the technology and other growth sectors, leading to successful and productive careers. The STEAM Leadership Project (focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) is a high-impact intervention, conducted by i.HUG Foundation in collaboration with its local Ugandan partner, which aims to:
-Develop girls’ interest, educational attainment and technical skills in science, engineering, technology and math
-Empower girls by giving them the tools and support needed to grow their confidence, self-esteem, and leadership capabilities
-Promote girls’ career aspirations by connecting them to mentors and role models and exposing them to relevant projects and careers
-Provide a supportive environment, counseling, and academic help to ensure they can overcome challenges and stay in school.
Each STEAM LEADERSHIP Project includes 15-20 girls that are selected based on their academic and leadership ability and potential, as well as their interest in the focus fields. Additional consideration will be given to girls who, due to their home circumstances, are at risk of dropping out before completing their high school education.
Our program builds on more traditional STEM programming in these ways:
Early intervention. Most STEM programs target girls age 16-17. Instead, our program will target girls just beginning secondary school (approx. age 14-15) and will serve as a key intervention to mitigate high absenteeism and dropout.
Leadership development. Our programming builds competence as well as confidence among girls. All sessions will integrate activities that help girls increase their self-esteem, confidence, aspirations, communication, collaboration, and other skills that will enable them to be the future leaders of the country.
Creative problem solving. Traditional STEM instruction focuses on linear problem-solving and following instructions. Our more progressive approach incorporates art (STEAM) and which develops more creative and non-linear thinking, which is needed to solve complex problems.
Components of the program
Weekly Workshop: Girls will attend a workshop one day each week during school sessions. STEAM workshops will focus on education and hands-on application of knowledge. Each session will integrate self-esteem building activities, general academic support, and provision of food and health/counseling services.
Intensive Programs: During school vacations, girls will participate in one-week intensive programs that focus on a core aspect of STEAM. Specialists, for example in computer programming or building design, will lead these intensive courses and enable girls to explore an issue, conduct research, collaborate and design solutions. Food, health, and counseling provided.
Mentoring and Career Guidance: Each school term, girls will work with an academic mentor to discuss their school progress and set targets for the upcoming term. The mentor will help develop an academic plan, and also work with the school, to ensure the student meets the targets set and is gaining the knowledge and experience needed to attain a productive career.
Site Visits, Role Models, and Guest Speakers: Many girls in Uganda cannot even dream of having an improved life and all that is possible. We will build relationships with businesses, role models, and guest speakers who the girl students will interact with throughout the year to support the hands-on activities and projects and to introduce girls to STEAM careers and experience and to raise their career aspirations.
If successful, it is envisioned that the program can be scaled up as a key intervention to encourage high-performing girls in secondary school to stay in school and achieve their career aspirations.