Exciting times in Diepsloot as Hatch helps establish a brand new branch of Siyakhula Computer School which opened this week to a full class of students eager to begin their journey across the digital divide and become computer literate.
Hatch has been a long-time supporter of the OLICO Foundation and of the Computer School in Ebony Park as well as a key sponsor of the Ivory Park IkamvaYouth programme. Hatch is now also helping OLICO grow the social impact of the computer school through enterprise development support that meets both a social need for affordable and accessible computer literacy training and creates sustainable employment in the process. The key objective of the Siyakhula Computer School is to provide low-cost, high-quality end-user computer literacy training to South Africa’s township communities as a stepping stone towards further study, employment and/or learnership opportunities.
Mandla Sithole (pictured in the striped shirt above) is a local resident of Diepsloot and the project manager and trainer at the new computer school. He is looking forward to helping scale the computer school model and improve the levels of computer literacy in his own community. Mandla says, “I feel great about this computer school because this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always invested myself in my community and to now be involved in training others to help them improve their circumstances is a dream come true. I am not doing this for the money but for the community – for the love of my community.”
Mandla Sithole (left) and Ephraim Sehlabo (right).
Working alongside Mandla is Ephraim Sehlabo, also a resident of Diepsloot, who is as excited about the future prospects of the school, “These days it is so important to know how to use a computer because in order to live you need to work somewhere, and in order to work somewhere you need computer skills so it’s really not optional, its critically important.” Mandla agrees with Ephraim and often tells his students, “We need to unlock the door to better future prospects and employment through computer skills and improving our education. There is no shortcut and it is the only sustainable route if we want to develop ourselves and our communities.”
The Diepsloot Computer Centre is situated in the Zikhuliseni Complex within the impressive Bophelong Place of Life Centre. Zikhuliseni is a joint-skills development initiative between Bryanston Methodist Church and Growthpoint Properties. The computer school currently boasts 16 state of the art computers which many of the Diepsloot students will be using as their first excursions into the world of information technology.
Charmaine Kombora, one of the first students to enroll at the Diepsloot branch, says that she came to the centre because it is affordable and easy to get to. She has been waiting to learn to use a computer for a long time now and is thrilled to discover that it is now affordable and accessible to her. For Charmaine, “Computers are everywhere and we have to become computer literate to progress which is why I am so excited about improving my education at Siyakhula.”
A fellow student, Lebo Molekoathing is also impressed by the affordability and quality of the training. As a community worker himself he holds leadership positions with the local Young Communist League and as a qualified Karate Sensai. Lebo wants to be an example to people from his community and hopes that others will follow his lead and enroll to learn computer skills too. He says, “Technology is just so pervasive that learning the computer should be our number one priority and when I discovered Siyakhula Computer School was here in Diepsloot I knew I had to be first in line to register. As a community and as South Africans, we need to learn and we need to learn fast if we are to make the most of technology to help solve the problems we face today.”
The computer school in Diepsloot will provide much-needed affordable and accessible end-user computer training to the Diepsloot community and ensure that it is sustainable in the process. By the end of 2011, the school expects to have run training for at least 80 students and (assuming it replicates the success of the Ebony Park branch) is expected to be fully self-sustaining and training in excess of 500 students annually by 2014.
For more details about the course content or to enrol, contact Ephraim on 011 042 9898 or 084 944 4799.