The Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC), an educational facility managed in partnership with the Good Work Foundation (GWF) and Hosanna Community Projects, has received a funding boost of R2.6 million from founding sponsor T-Systems. This sum is in addition to the R3.7 million originally donated by T-Systems towards the start-up of the centre last year, and will be used to fund operational expenses as well as development of the curriculum in line with market needs.
This initiative is part of T-Systems in South Africa’s Sustainable Enterprise Development programme and assists to provide critical skills such as IT, Tourism and English to the community of Hazyview and surrounding areas in the Mpumalanga Province. Skills development and community upliftment is an issue that T-Systems is passionate about and the project is the ideal platform to support and drive these two areas.
The HDLC is managed by the GWF, an organisation committed to bringing positive educational interventions to rural South African communities. It was launched in August 2012 and aims to help bridge the skills gap in South Africa by providing critical skills such as IT, Tourism and English to communities from Hazyview and surrounding areas in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
The centre focuses on individuals who have left the school system early or mature students who have not been able to further their education due to economic and other constraints. It also offers open learning for school learners. The education programmes 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 centre currently has 160 adult learners and 80 school learners attending classes.
All first year students complete their International Computer Drivers License (ICDL) as well as A+ and N+ courses. This aligns with the CIDA ICT Academy curriculum, another educational project that T-Systems is a key sponsor of, and enables learners to then apply to join the Academy. This feeds into T-Systems’ internship and learnership programmes. Once they have completed their first year, students can also specialise in hospitality and tourism.
“We are aiming to align this curriculum with the needs of employers in the region, to help ensure further job prospects after graduation,” says Gert Schoonbee, Managing Director of T-Systems in South Africa. “Our goal is to provide a sustainable education solution to the Hazyview community, helping to uplift residents by not only offering quality education, but also long-term career prospects. Education and sustainability are critical for the South African economy, and the centre is well on its way to helping to create a pool of highly employable graduates,” he adds.
Since its launch, the HDLC has already seen many success stories. There are currently 80 adult learners completing their ICDL qualification, who have started the hospitality course, and are at various stages in the completion of this qualification. The first ICDL graduates will achieve this honour by the end of March 2013. Potential candidates for the HDLC ICT Academy will then complete aptitude tests and undergo career interviews, and the A+ and N+ courses will begin in June of this year. Two of the facilitators at the HDLC will also be learning and writing exams at the CIDA ICT Academy in the coming month, so that they can take their skills back to the centre with them and provide skills transfer.
“The benefits of having this state of the art facility are already beginning to show, and we have had feedback from many of our students who are now beginning to excel in their current employment. Local companies are also starting to send their employees to us to study their ICDL certification. Our learners range from five to 74 years of age, so we are really providing an education solution for the entire community,” says Kate Groch, CEO at GWF.
“One of our biggest success stories so far is Deliwe Tibane, who was part of the building crew on the HDLC. Once construction was complete, she was employed as a cleaner and completed her ICDL at the same time. In six short months, she was promoted to the position of student liaison and administration assistant at the HDLC. We look forward to many more successes like this,” she adds.
The HDLC will be hosting its first careers fair in April this year, with speakers, career interviews and counselling to assist students and prospective students in making the right career choices. Further plans for the year include moving the Hospitality and ICT academies into their own purpose-designed buildings to improve the quality of education on offer, as well as to secure SETA funding for improved sustainability of the Learning Centre.
The HDLC is also in discussions to add a Music Academy in partnership with the Performing Arts Academy at White River. This new direction will enable students to participate in lessons on musical instruments, music mixing and more, and will open up further career avenues for musically gifted individuals in the area.
“T-Systems is incredibly proud to support the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre and remain committed to ensuring its sustainability into the future. We are dedicated to continued investment in South Africa and the growth of the country through this and other initiatives,” concludes Schoonbee.