Molo Mhlaba (MM) offers a radical new approach to schooling in South Africa. With local, low-fee, independent schools in underserved communities, MM provides South Africa’s most vulnerable group – black girls – with access to quality STEM education and career orientation, going beyond standard educational targets to strive for excellence and innovation. MM inspires and equips girls to pursue careers in STEM by crucially focusing on early development and primary education (grades R-7).
While the first one has already opened in Khayelitsha, MM will eventually become a network of schools across South Africa. A key component to its mission is exposure to astronomy, which easily captures the imagination of children, making it the ideal subject through which to encourage them to aspire to and pursue STEM careers. Thanks to many South African projects (e.g. Square Kilometer Array), astronomy is also a high-profile STEM sector in the country. Through classes (20) and extra activities (also offered at other local schools), astronomy will be used to inspire the female scientists of the future, by addressing racial and gender inequality affecting STEM, while enabling learners, parents, and educators to see how a career is achievable. Standard curriculums have meanwhile been extended to include the following texts: George’s Secret Key to the universe by N. and S. Hawking; Papa please get the moon for me by E. Carle; Ada Twist Scientist by A. Beaty; Mae Among the stars by R. Ahmed; Hidden Figures by M. L. Shetterly and W. Conklin.