South African edu-tech trailblazer Phemelo Segoe shares her insights

Phemelo Segoe. Photo supplied.

This Women’s Month we speak to digital education pioneer, Phemelo Segoe, the operations manager of Tuta-Me, who is helping to enable thousands of high school learners across South Africa to practice maths and science online from their mobile device. 

What excites you most about the work you do within the edu-tech space? 

The real impact. At the end of the year when we do feedback sessions with our learners, I get to see the real impact our services have made, like seeing a learner who was struggling with a subject, not only pass but excel. Those are the sweetest moments. 

How has Tuta-Me adjusted, or started new projects, to assist learners during the pandemic?

Our platform Mobi-Tuta now incorporates online classrooms for one of our clients, who needed to move face-to-face classes to the digital space. We also moved all our tutoring online for our bursary programme clients. 

Why do you think it’s important for girls in particular to be encouraged to pursue STEM subjects?

I think it’s critical for girls to be encouraged to pursue STEM subjects because of the skill set required in today’s economy. While many companies are restructuring and even retrenching, there are still many job offers and openings for people with an ICT related skill set and I believe it’s important that young girls are nudged to go into these traditionally male-dominated industries. To code, programme, develop and more. I want girls to know that the world of computer engineering is theirs too and STEM subjects are the gateway. 

Are these subjects still engaged with more by male learners, have you found? 

Yes, they’re still very male-dominated. 

If yes, why do you think this is the case?

Every industry, apart from hospitality, was dominated by men until women started infiltrating it. This is just one from the list that women need to start moving into and cementing their place. 

How can girls be encouraged more, when it comes to Maths and Science subjects? 

Support. Support. Support. Maths and Science are subjects that require time, so affording girls the opportunity to study after school instead of focusing on chores is one thing. But also offering tutoring, before going down the Mathematics Literacy route.

Many careers now (and for the future) are centred around technology and development. How can girls prepare themselves better at high school level in order to be able to pursue these careers?

They need to take Maths, Science and other related subjects.

This Women’s Month, what message would you like to give to girls and women who would like to thrive in maths-, science- or technology-related subjects or careers? 

My message for young women and girls is whatever you dream of, is meant for you. Don’t turn away from anything because you haven’t seen a woman do it before you.