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Mozilla offers SA varsities R3.6m in responsible computing drive

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 27 May 2024
Dr Ziyaad Bhorat, Mozilla’s RCC South Africa lead.
Dr Ziyaad Bhorat, Mozilla’s RCC South Africa lead.

Web browser Mozilla is set to offer R3.6 million to six local universities, in an initiative to train South African computer science students in ethical technology.

The company opened applications for the Responsible Computing Challenge (RCC) today, saying professors at the universities will blend traditional computer science curricula with issues like equity, bias, privacy and digital rights.

The challenge supports the conceptualisation, development and piloting of curricula that empowers students to think about the social and political context of computing.

According to Mozilla, RCC has awarded over $6 million to universities across Kenya, India and the US over the last six years.

Dr Ziyaad Bhorat, Mozilla’s RCC South Africa lead, says: “South Africa celebrates 30 years of democracy this year, with a much longer history of struggling against inequality and inequity.

“Our voice deserves to thunder across the world of tech and be fully realised in the way we train our computing graduates. We are excited to do this work with our partners and community, helping to grow a movement for a healthier tech ecosystem and trustworthy AI [artificial intelligence].”

Bhorat tells ITWeb via e-mail that students in South Africa continue to be the wellspring of change.

“With our own history of activism against Apartheid oppression, inequity and injustice, we firmly believe our institutions of higher education are ideally placed to reimagine how the next generation of technologists should be educated.

“South Africa also has one of the largest and most diversified economies on the continent, with an advanced and fast-growing information and communication technology sector. It’s important that we shape that growth in ways that serve our people.”

To ensure the funds are put to good use, Bhorat says South African grantees will work with each other, Mozilla staff, a dedicated advisory group that includes some of the country’s brightest minds, and other grantees around the world to ensure their courses are robust and impactful.

“RCC is about building a movement through education. It’s a movement to ensure a diversity of stakeholders, including communities and people historically shut out of tech, are involved in the design of tools, platforms and systems like AI. We are excited to get building.”