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E-Literacy: upskilling and empowering less privileged communities across the country

ICT skills play an important role in the development of rural or small underprivileged communities. It creates a level of empowerment in the youth and a greater level of independence and confidence in the older generation who often call themselves "BBT's" Born Before Technology. This is why programmes such as E-Literacy and technical support training are implemented in small towns, not only to provide life-long skills, but help change the lives of many through developing and empowering them.

On 12 February, a group of community members in the small arid town of De Aar in the Northern Cape, were dressed in their graduation gowns and walked up the stage to finally receive their certificates after completing the E-Literacy course.

E-Literacy is a course presented under the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) E-skills CoLab (Collaborative Laboratory) which is a programme developed to train community members by giving them basic e-literacy skills. The E-skills - E-literacy course is accredited by VUT as a short learning programme and aims to upskill and develop less privileged communities.

Opening this occasion, which proved to be a ground-breaking event in the small town of De Aar was Antoinette Lombard, the Director of E-skills CoLab at VUT and the person responsible, together with the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (Nemisa) for implementing this life-changing course throughout the Northern Cape.

Lombard expressed her joy in seeing the programme roll out successfully. "VUT in partnership with Nemisa created a unit called the E-Skills CoLab. This unit forms part of the national E-skills Project under the auspices of Nemisa and the Department of Telecommunication and Postal Service (DTPS). This project is one of the flagship projects of the Deputy Minister, Minister Stella Ndabeni Abrahams of DTPS. Nemisa is also the main funder of the e-skills project throughout South Africa," she said.

Nemisa's goal is to equip 21 million citizens with the basic computer literacy skills by 2030, and therefore, the VUT E-skills Colab is one of seven university partners committed to helping Nemisa achieve that goal.

In his keynote address, Professor Gordon Zide, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of VUT, said he was proud to see all graduates receiving their certificates after much dedication to the programme. "You have achieved a lot, the qualification that you've obtained today not only belongs to you but to the people of your community. This country requires people like you to make the change it needs," he said.

A message of appreciation from Gladys Moses, one of the graduates, left many hearts feeling warm after she voiced her appreciation for having gone through this training. She acknowledged and thanked all partners and individuals involved in making the programme a success and for specifically including De Aar as one of the communities who benefit from such programmes.