Careers in aviation and aerospace involve many areas of study such as: hospitality, engineering, medicine and law. However, one woman realised that without intensive exposure to this industry many youths – who might be interested in working in this field – miss out on great opportunities.

Fatima Jakoet is an airline pilot who currently operating the airbus at South African Airways (SAA). She started her airline career at South African Airways’ cadet pilot programme and qualified with an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) at the BAE Systems Flight Training College in Adelaide, Australia. Fatima is rated on the Airbus A340, Boeing 747-400 and the 737-800.

This multi-talented pilot is also a qualified forensic scientist and specialised in toxicology and narcotics. Her academic qualifications include: a degree in chemistry from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), an MBA from Stellenbosch University Business School, and a Programme for Leadership Development qualification from Harvard Business School.

Fatima has always had a deep passion for developing youth in South Africa so that they can dream big and achieve success, like she has done. She is especially interested in developing learners at both primary and high school between the ages of 8-18. Inspired by this goal she founded the Sakhikamva Foundation in 2010 which seeks to expose youth and children to the aviation and aerospace industry.

“This is key to addressing the barriers to enter the industry. There are so many opportunities in this industry and if we don’t expose and develop our youth, the future of this technologically advanced industry will be bleak.”

The foundation targets learners with its development programmes focussing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

“Our science, technology, robotics, engineering, aerospace and mathematics (STREAM) laboratory – which we opened in Cape Town – is a first in creating a stimulating space for our youth and children while they develop an array of 21st century skills. Our second STREAM laboratory is located at Lanseria International Airport.”

The Sakhikamva Foundation aims to interact with 30 000 youths and children each year. Learners can visit the foundation’s STREAM laboratory where they can experience flight simulation, space science, robotics, coding and 3-D printing.

“We have similar activities at schools, including a paper aeroplane challenge.”

The foundation continues to get positive feedback from learners, parents, and guardians who have seen the value of their projects.

“We have youth that are already qualified in the industry who are economically active. We always tell the youth to believe in themselves and believe in their dreams. If you can believe it – you can achieve it.”