T-Systems unveils Hazyview Digital Learning Centre – bridges skills gap with critical training

T-Systems in South Africa officially launched the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC) today, an educational facility managed in partnership with the Good Work Foundation (GWF) and Hosanna Community Projects. The centre, now fully constructed, will provide critical skills such as IT, Tourism and English to communities from Hazyview and surrounding areas in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

The launch, held at the HDLC in Hazyview, was attended by South African Minister in the Presidency for National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel, Reinhard Clemens, Board of Management at Deutsche Telekom and T‑Systems CEO and T-Systems in South Africa Managing Director, Gert Schoonbee.

T-Systems donated R3.7 million towards the start-up of the centre, construction costs and the provision of HR and resources as well as curriculum alignment and assistance to ensure the centre meets the highest training standards. The HDLC will focus on those individuals that have left the school system early or mature students who have not been able to further their education due to economic and other constraints.

Says Gert Schoonbee, Managing Director of T-Systems in South Africa: “The HDLC epitomises not only T-Systems’ but the country’s emphasis on uplifting those in need with education which forms the cornerstone of any society.  The National Development Plan and 2030 Vision outlines the need for quality education and training, particularly in those areas where there is a lack of educational facilities, and it is our hope that the HDLC will be a significant contributor in this area. We feel truly privileged to form part of this wonderful project.”

The education programmes will run parallel to schooling systems, and provide access to education for rural learners. In addition, learners will obtain practical skills preparing them for the world of work, allowing them to compete in a global environment. The HDLC is managed by the GWF, an organisation committed to bringing positive educational interventions to rural South African communities. Through the foundation’s education initiatives it assists and promotes the transformation that needs to take place in South Africa.

“The generous support of T-Systems in South Africa has enabled the GWF to invent a new way of learning for Africa, making maximum use of modern technology and delivering world-class education to rural communities,” says Dave Varty, Chairman of the GWF.

The establishment of the HDLC also falls in line South Africa Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande’s green paper on post-school education and training which recommends expansion in all post-school institutional types such as further Education Training (FET) colleges, universities, adult education facilities and workplace-based training. The paper proposes an increase in FET college enrolments from 400 000 to four million in 20 years.

Education excellence

Emphasising the centre’s commitment to educational excellence, it employs among others retired educators who offer years of critical experience. These educators will work with and mentor young local educators. In addition, the HDLC incorporates relevant, accredited teaching programmes such as IEB, Lets Sell Lobster and ICDL

Already teaching at the centre has started – 60 students aged 10 to 17 years are attending an afternoon programme that incorporates English, Computer and Life Skills. The first adult ICDL computer training started in July with a class of 30 learners receiving training on fully equipped IT facilities which mirror the T-Systems-sponsored CIDA ICT Academy in Johannesburg. Over the course of the next couple of months, learner numbers are expected to grow to approximately 300.

The Tourism school will commence in September, running the ‘Let’s Sell Lobster’ programme for NQF4 National Diploma in Hospitality qualifications. An ICT academy’s full curriculum (similar to the CIDA ICT Academy) will commence early 2013.

The facility

The Hazyview Digital Learning Centre is 400 square metres of ‘IT Excellence’ and can host 300 students at a time. The facility’s usage is maximised as it can accommodate 300 adults in the mornings and evenings while 300 learners who are currently at school but require additional tutoring can take part in the parallel curriculum in the afternoons. The learning centre features a server room and two traditional computer rooms with 21 and 30 computers respectively. These have been networked and are connected to the Internet.

The centre also incorporates a central area, with wireless connectivity, aptly called the Barn as it used to be an old banana barn. At the Barn, students can connect wirelessly with mobile devices such as tablets. Two breakaway rooms are also available which can hold up 20 students. Additionally, the centre includes smart screens that are mobile for improved information distribution.  The facility also includes student bathrooms that are wheelchair friendly.

In future, the centre will use appropriate and renewable energy resources such as solar power to meet its daily energy requirements as well as harvesting of water and the use of a grey water system, contributing to the overall sustainability of its operations.

“There is no doubt that the centre meets all the requirements for education excellence. It will provide an environment that fosters learning and sets students on their way to become truly successful,” says Schoonbee.

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T-Systems unveils Hazyview Digital Learning Centre – bridges skills gap with critical training