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E-skills course produces first graduates

For the first time ever, VUT awarded certificates to 18 students who completed their training at e-skills training centres in the Northern Cape (De Aar, Nababeep, Carnarvon, Karstens Farm in Pella and the VUT Technology Station in Upington). The e-skills course is sponsored by the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) and part the government e-skills project.

The above achievement has been made possible through a multi-stakeholder collaboration consisting of government (Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services), civil society, business and others. The focus of the training is on community development in the areas of Internet, e-mail, basic computer skills and mobile skills. These skills are commonly referred to as e-literacy skills.

Commenting on the e-literacy, Director: E-Skills, Antoinette Lombard, said: "We believe that with these basic skills, people from our communities in urban, peri-urban, rural and deep rural areas will be able to help themselves to uplift their own lives as well as their communities. We all have to invest in the youth of our country and through the e-skills programme, we are changing lives."

Lombard said it was a very long planning journey to get everything in place to start with the actual implementation. "Now that it is happening, it is absolutely amazing to see what difference it makes in the lives of our community people at the different centres," she said. In almost all the cases, she said, the youth that trained are unemployed, and by completing this course and receiving an accredited certificate, it opens up opportunities they've never had before.

"I can see how students grow during the programme and become more self-reliable and more self-confident. That, for me, is an important aspect of the training. It is not just about learning functions and programmes, but it also the development of the person itself," she concluded.

Keegan Langfred from Morning Glory Area in Upington is one of the graduates from the TTI centre. He learnt basic computer skills in PowerPoint, e-mail and Internet: "I am very happy that I now have a certificate to show that I am good at computer applications. I gained practical skills that will assist me in the workplace in future," he said.

Another e-skills graduate is Prudence Moos, who is also a facilitator at Carnarvon Computer Centre. This centre is part of an SKA (Square Kilometre Array) group. She is now fully qualified as a facilitator and will be running the e-literacy programme.

"It's a great accomplishment to receive my certificate from a well-known institution like VUT. I feel honoured that I am now able to teach other people to acquire computer skills," she said.

Through this e-skills programme, VUT is coming to the community and making a difference.