Girls spend the day at the zoo

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Johannesburg - Girl children will spend a day learning about what it takes to work at the Johannesburg Zoo, as part of the Take a Girl Child to Work initiative.

Learners in Grades 10 to 12 from around Joburg have been invited to the zoo today, where they will discover more about the different jobs in the conservation environment, which is still dominated by men.

Various zoo departments - among them human resources, finance, marketing and education, the technical department, animal collection and veterinary - will speak to the girls about the kinds of careers that are open in the field, as well as about what study courses are necessary for the careers.

It is a daylong programme, with the learners getting involved in the day-to-day activities of staff, reports

Each department will explain their roles so that the girls get a better understanding of the functionality and purpose of choosing a certain course. The learners will also be taken on a tour of the zoo.

Take a Girl Child to Work was initiated by the cellphone company Cell C. The idea is to give school girls the opportunity to make informed career choices that will shape their future and help them achieve their dreams.

The zoo has been involved with the programme for six years. It believes the day is a rewarding experience for the learners and the zoo staff.

Letta Madlala, the brand and communications manager, said some of the learners were surprised by the range of opportunities available at the zoo and had volunteered to work at the facility.

"Many people don't understand that people working at the zoo are professionals ... [With such days] people will then understand how the zoo operates and they will be surprised. They will learn from what we do," Ms Madlala said.

She said the Joburg Zoo acknowledged that gender discrimination might deprive girls and women of reaching their full potential, making them vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation.

The theme of this year's Take a Girl Child to Work campaign is "Change your world".

At midday today, President Jacob Zuma will also host 10 children at his Cabinet lekgotla as part of the campaign.

As June is Youth Month, the Joburg Student Council will be taking the children of city employees to the workplace on Thursday, 11 June.

Only 100 children in Grades 10 and 11 - both boys and girls - will be invited to participate.

"We will be taking the children to Soweto to [educate them], such as how the 1976 youth helped to lead us to where we are now," said Kureish Isaacs, the deputy director of citizenship in the City.

They would also be taken to Orlando Stadium, where they would learn about Rea Vaya and what it was their city was doing for them.

They would also be able to see what their parents did in their day to shape up the city as many of them did not know what their parents did.

An exhibition would also give information about many career possibilities.