Dell to roll out more solar labs in KZN

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Natasha Reuben, head of transformation at Dell EMC SA.
Natasha Reuben, head of transformation at Dell EMC SA.

Dell plans to establish three more solar learning labs in its effort to empower underprivileged youth in KwaZulu-Natal with ICT skills.

The solar learning labs are refurbished shipping containers that have been transformed into classrooms.

They are self-sustained through an off-grid solar power system and the computers use cloud technologies to run the latest Windows Office systems. Each lab has a dozen computer workstations, and a teacher is available at each site to assist kids with the curriculum.

The company is in talks with partners in KwaZulu-Natal to identify the areas they can set up the facilities. Dell plans to deploy the new units in the next six months, targeting more than 2 000 kids to visit the labs.

Natasha Reuben, head of transformation at Dell EMC SA, says some schools don’t have IT labs and through the solar learning programmes, they are able to bring the labs to the schools.

“We are able to get kids to understand coding, get them to understand basic IT and advanced IT, but all around, be able to use IT to empower themselves. So our key goal is to teach kids high-performance computing and equip them with the skills they need to really go out and embrace technology.”

Reuben says it is not only the kids who are benefiting from these IT labs, as members of the community are also using them.

“In the evenings, those solar labs are being used by community members, so people that previously didn’t get a chance to load a CV or do some research on jobs, now they are able to do that.”

Reuben says Dell’s vision is to enhance children’s IT skills by offering different programmes.

“We work with strategic giving partners so from primary right up until high school kids are exposed to IT through the various initiatives that Dell is doing. We started off this journey by saying we had the vision to see more youth coming into IT but also females and that was key.”

The initiative is part of Dell's 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, which aims to provide direct technology access to more than 5 000 underprivileged students in communities where technology infrastructure is limited.

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