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Gijima, Gumede Foundation step up to help Mpumalanga students

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University of Mpumalanga VC professor Thoko Mayekiso and a Gijima representative hand over a laptop to a student.
University of Mpumalanga VC professor Thoko Mayekiso and a Gijima representative hand over a laptop to a student.

ICT services company Gijima and the Robert Gumede Family Keni Foundation (the Robert Gumede Foundation) have made a multimillion-rand donation of laptops to the University of Mpumalanga.

The laptops are for those students that are not beneficiaries of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and cannot afford to purchase the electronic devices for themselves.

Even though the country has started to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the majority of students will continue their studies through the remote multi-modal teaching and learning process until they return to campus.

With over 5 000 students, the Mpumalanga university was founded five years ago, so that Mpumalanga students don’t have to go all over SA to attend a university.

Some of the students at the higher learning institution are NSFAS beneficiaries, while a sizeable number have to pay for their own tuition and other expenses.

Gijima says it decided to donate the devices following minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement that only NSFAS beneficiaries would receive laptops and data for their online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Robert Gumede Foundation, in its engagement with the university’s vice-chancellor professor Thoko Mayekiso, heeded the call to donate laptop computers to the students who are not funded by NSFAS, since they all come from poor families and have no money to buy an R8 000 laptop and data card.”

According to the ICT services company, for the past few years, it has also provided top students from the university with financial awards and IT leanerships upon the completion of their studies.

“Education is power, a key to success, differentiator, ceiling-breaker, it instils responsibility and unleashes one’s potential to greater heights,” says Gijima chairman Robert Gumede. “At Gijima and the Keni Foundation, we know the impact of the digital world in transforming society as we all engage in 4IR [the fourth industrial revolution]. The donation of the laptops is to ensure more students have the opportunity to be on par with other students globally͕͟.”

“We thank Robert Gumede, the Keni Foundation and Gijima for having adopted UMP and supporting Mpumalanga’s deserving students with scholarships and now with the much-needed laptops to help students to access online lectures and digital knowledge͟,” adds vice-chancellor Mayekiso.

Further assistance

Meanwhile, communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams yesterday unveiled a programme to empower youth from the remote areas of the country.

The initiative, which is a public-private partnership between mobile operator MTN and Ndabeni-Abrahams’s department, aims to equip young people with Internet-enabled laptops.

“There is a growing need to build capacity around the skills of the future and contribute towards the digital economy,” said the minister.

“This is a perfect opportunity for communities to get exposure to opportunities available in the sector. We are looking forward to growing this initiative. This growth can only be achieved through private and public partnership.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams expressed hopes that the partnership will improve the gateway to information and technology for remote and rural communities.

She said the next step is to explore making available online short courses that can improve skills and livelihoods.

Ndabeni-Abrahams also donated tablets to traditional leaders represented by the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) at MTN’s headquarters in Randburg, Johannesburg.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs deputy minister Obed Bapela, NHTL chairperson Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu and his deputy Inkosikazi Nomandla Mhlauli received the tablets.

“The devices will enable them to benefit from the department’s SA Connect programme, which seeks to rollout broadband connectivity across all underserviced areas in the country,” Ndabeni-Abrahams states.

The handover follows the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the ministries of communications and digital technologies, and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, to facilitate the rapid deployment of electronic communications and facilities within municipalities across the country.

Ndabeni-Abrahams indicated broadband has the potential to transform rural economies. “It can overcome many of the challenges of distance and isolation. It can be immensely empowering. Broadband provides them with information, access and choice.”

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