Telkom offers coding programme in Eastern Cape

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Sarah Mthintso, head of Telkom Foundation.
Sarah Mthintso, head of Telkom Foundation.

The Telkom Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (CDT), has unveiled a community-led coding programme to uplift the Alice community in the Eastern Cape Province.

As part of the initiative, the foundation handed over a fully-equipped computer lab at Healdtown High School, in a ceremony that took place at the Raymond Mhlaba centenary organised by the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture in the Eastern Cape last week.

The ceremony also saw the opening of the Alice Library and the Raymond Mhlaba Council Chamber, and the hosting of a memorial lecture dedicated to the life and legacy of Raymond Mhlaba – affectionately known as Oom Ray.

As part of the Digital Skills Development Programme, Telkom has identified 25 unemployed youth aged between 18 and 35, with an IT background, from the community to participate in the month-long coding initiative. The participants will be provided with laptops and software, according to the company.

“Government and industry need to work together to bridge the digital gap. There can never be a meaningful fourth industrial revolution (4IR) if our people are not connected and a capable 4IR army if there are no skills,” said Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, minister of CDT.

Eastern Cape premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane last year declared 2020 the “Year of Raymond Mhlaba and Vuyisiole Mini” – local icons of the struggle for liberation who were born 100 years ago.

Telkom and its subsidiary BCX have several coding initiatives running throughout the country.

The telecoms operator has also donated an educational content platform to enhance digital skills and online learning at Healdtown High School in Fort Beaufort.

Telkom says it will support teacher education on the use of the technology and devices, and the required connectivity to run the lab.

“The Telkom Foundation’s mission is rooted in meaningful and sustainable community upliftment and development,” said Sarah Mthintso, head of Telkom Foundation, speaking at the ceremony.

“This is how we wanted to design our Train-the-Trainer coding programme. We didn’t want to just supply hardware, software and Internet, and then walk away. It is going to be key to impart transferrable knowledge and skills as well as post-training support in order to empower the youth identified in a meaningful way and in order for them to be able to train up others in their community.”

At the end of the programme, candidates will be given the opportunity to become teachers after their training and will be accordingly assisted, adds Mthintso.

“Ideally, they should be able to take the skills and knowledge forward and help others in their community.”

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