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RuraTech makes STEM skills accessible to rural schools

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 27 Jul 2023
The RuraTech mobile tablet trolleys transform classrooms into computer labs.
The RuraTech mobile tablet trolleys transform classrooms into computer labs.

RuraTech, a private company with a social intent to enable learners in South Africa’s disadvantaged areas to increase their ICT skills, says it is on its way to delivering on its commitment to provide digital library kits to 280 schools, across SA.

RuraTech was formed in 2020 with the aim to bridge the digital divide in local schools that do not have access to computers, laboratories or internet connectivity.

The Durban-based organisation collaborates with corporates, governments, churches and local communities on their social responsibility programmes. The focus is on providing learners and educators with the equipment and necessary training support to advance the progression of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Through its partnership with fibre-to-the home provider Vuma's Fibre to School Programme, the organisation also ensures schools are equipped with uninterrupted internet connectivity.

Since inception, RuraTech says it has provided digital library kits to nine schools, with plans to hand over 271 over the next few years – to meet its commitment to digitise 280 schools.

The digital library kit is a mobile tablet trolley, with 40 Windows/Android tablet devices, a teacher’s laptop and an offline educational server for all the devices. Each tablet is WiFi-enabled and has security features to minimise the risk of theft.

The trolley, aimed at transforming classrooms into computer labs, can be moved from one classroom to another, according to RuraTech.

“RuraTech is a fairly young initiative, but in the short time that we’ve been operating, we have managed to make a big impact through our various programmes,” notes Jeffrey Katuruza, director and founder of RuraTech.

“We have equipped nine schools and over 6 000 beneficiaries to access crucial digital literacy resources, and the numbers are growing.”

RuraTech’s other initiatives include equipping schools with solar-powered computer labs and renovating old computer labs for schools.

The organisation believes improving STEM and computer subjects is crucial to the advancement of SA’s digital economy, in a country with a significant shortage of ICT skills.

Fernwood Park Primary School in Bethelsdorp, Gqeberha, became the latest beneficiary of the digital library kits.

Chanteline Le Roux, principal of Fernwood Park Primary School, comments: “The learners are very excited to learn using the new technology and various resources, which will enrich our curriculum activities. Learners are also able to enhance their basic computer literacy skills, which will be beneficial throughout their schooling careers and beyond.”