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South Africa, 21 February 2017: Having a vision to overcome

© UNICEF South Africa/2017/Okumu

TechnoGirls: From today’s vision to tomorrow’s success

When meeting 19-year old Julian Morudi one is overwhelmed by her humility, an endearing and admirable characteristic considering her outstanding final year school results, known in South Africa as Matriculation. Growing up in Tembisa, a large township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Julian had to overcome numerous obstacles in her personal life to achieve academic excellence.

Graduating from high school in 2016, she achieved six distinctions and is looking to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Witwatersrand. This is despite coming from difficult economic circumstances where her family is dependent on the child support grant and a disability grant. Financial pressures had forced her mother and two siblings to live in the back room of her maternal grandmother’s house. Julian credits the UNICEF-funded TechnoGirls programme for giving her the opportunity to better her life and rise above her socio-economic challenges.

TechnoGirls, a Department of Basic Education and UNICEF initiative, is an innovative job-shadowing programme for girl high school learners who have an interest in and display an aptitude for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These learners are identified and placed in a structured job-shadowing initiative in private and public companies, with the assistance of UNICEF.

Julian was part of a group of girls selected to intern at Dimension Data, a digital solutions company based in Johannesburg. While there, Julian found herself inspired by the hardworking staff, some of whom shared a similarly disadvantaged background. Her mentor encouraged her and the other girls to create “vision boards” of their future aspirations. Julian soon came to the realization that it is not how one begins their journey, but it is rather about one’s own determination, hard work and the support one receives from ones family, peers and mentors.

© UNICEF South Africa/2017/Okumu

Julian’s mother, Jane, has been her biggest cheerleader, constantly encouraging her daughter to study and improve her life. “Julian is a disciplined child who is very helpful at home”, Jane says proudly. “Julian has been dreaming of becoming a doctor ever since she was in primary school and I hope that this dream comes true,” she adds. Jane suffers from hearing loss which greatly hampers her ability to seek full time employment.

When asked how she copes with her living conditions and still manages to achieve such remarkable academic results, Julian shrugs and simply says that there are other children who live in more severe conditions and are still able to do as well or even better than her. “I make sure I am at school by 6am to study before class and I also wake up in the middle of the night to study again,” she says matter-of-factly. With the vision of a successful future supported by initiatives like TechnoGirls, the sky is indeed the limit for Julian.

Tembisa is an isiXhosa word which means ‘promise’, and if Julian’s story is anything to go by, South Africa’s townships are filled with promise, resilience and hope. UNICEF continues to work with their partners to ensure that every child is given a fair chance of receiving quality education and overcoming the barriers of inequality.



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