Zimbabwe: Innovative Young Minds Create Health App.

Regina Rumbidzai Pasipanodya.

As young as they are, the three grade seven pupils harnessed technology that seeks to address health and diet issues faced by people in society.

Following the new trend of people involved in a series of dieting to address obesity, three grade seven pupils from Westridge Primary School scooped the silver medals after they invented an application that seeks to address eating disorders.

“We understand that with regards to health issues, so many people are faced with a dilemma in such a way that others would want to lose weight whilst some would want to gain weight,” said Marangwanda one of the young girls.

The three grade seven pupils at a Harare-based elite school Primary, Keisha Mlalazi (12), Alisha Marangwanda (12), and Valerie Masawi (11) introduced a health App under the banner, ‘the Health Pot’. 

This ‘Health Pot’ App is designed to give people with different health desires guidelines on how to address unique health issues as it can guide people through a good diet and help them avoid engaging in eating disorders affecting their health.

Mlalazi, Marangwanda, and Masawi made a remarkable display of ingenuity when they brought a ground-breaking solution that promises to transform health issues in Zimbabwe and beyond.

 Their achievement was showcased at the Science Fair in March 2024 and it managed to capture the attention of the adjudicators as they scooped the silver medals.

“I always have this passion to work on something that would address problems in my community and I realised that dieting is very topical since everyone wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Mlalazi.

They decided to work as a team bringing together their strength to make this innovation a success.

With guidance and supervision from their Science teacher, the three girls showcased the App at the national science and scooped medals.

“I have never seen anyone so determined as this trio. They understand teamwork and bring forth their strength for the benefit of their vision,” said Westridge Science teacher Mr Kapuya.

The Health Pot App is more than just a technological marvel; it represents a beacon of hope for communities across the nation as it provides easy access to accurate health information, preventive measures, and treatment guidelines.

Users can now make informed decisions about their well-being, regardless of their location.

By connecting users with health services and professional help, the app bridges the gap in healthcare delivery.

“The app tracks health trends, disease outbreaks, and community needs, empowering decision-makers to allocate resources effectively,” Mlalazi said.

These young minds have harnessed technology to address critical health challenges, proving that innovation knows no age limits and sex considering that in Africa women are regarded as less capable, especially in the field of science.

As Zimbabwe embraces its vision, this would give people easy access to professional dieting tips and how to lead a healthy life.

Over the years, in Zimbabwe, women and girls have been encouraged to embrace careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to bridge the technological gap and the gender divide amid revelations that fewer girls are pursuing STEM subjects.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s guidance and counseling department Inspector Lavinia Moyo brought attention to the ministry’s struggles last year in encouraging females to pursue careers in STEM fields.

“Masculine issues are linked to misconceptions about the STEM fields. STEM has always been linked with males and men, according to parents and well-respected important individuals. Girls are hesitant, insecure, and fearful of pursuing STEM fields, which are overwhelmingly dominated by men,” according to Moyo.

Fewer Girls in Stem

Against the above background, the government of Zimbabwe has developed the Education 5.0 model in an attempt to promote a human capital base that would meet the demands of the nation’s economic development plans.

At a post-Cabinet Media Briefing in Harare recently, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa stated that the population of learners taking up STEM stood at 44% with girls constituting 22 percent.

The government has therefore developed and unveiled the Education 5.0 model to support the creation of a human capital foundation that could support the goals of the nation’s economic growth initiatives.

Increased student engagement in STEM fields, particularly among girls, can help the nation meet its goals for Education 5.0.

However, the Director of the Science Fair Mr Knowledge Chikundi said that having a platform like the Science Fair has seen more girls showing interest in STEM despite various barriers hindering girls from participating in science and technology.

“This year more girls participated as compared to boys,” he said

“I understand that there are issues of masculinity stereotypes. Parents, communities, and influential people often associate STEM with boys but with the Science Fair program, girls have been showing an interest and they are excelling in it.

“The three Westridge girls did something out of the ordinary considering their age and if all goes well they are going to China towards the year’s end to showcase their innovation on an international level,” Chikundi told this publication.

However, in taking STEM subjects there are still gaps between boys and girls in STEM even when girls perform as well as their male peers in STEM tests, many lose interest and do not pursue advanced courses or careers in STEM.

There is a lack of female role models that have made it up who cheer on and speak positively to spur the females and who are grateful to the few that have arisen to give.

National statistical agency Zimstat has said women were under-represented in STEM.

“Research indicates that women are still not able to fully utilise ICTs due to the gender disparity in access to these tools. The underrepresentation of women in STEM fields has a knock-on effect on other fields of labour where women are also underrepresented,” Zimstat said in a statement.

Zimstat said during the 2022 population and housing census 22 % were women who studied engineering, manufacturing, and construction while 32 % studied ICTs.

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