Trevor Noah, Microsoft partner on digital literacy

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South African comedian Trevor Noah at the launch of the Trevor Noah foundation.
South African comedian Trevor Noah at the launch of the Trevor Noah foundation.

South African comedian Trevor Noah launched his foundation today with aspirations to bring digital tools and skills to SA schools. The Trevor Noah Foundation is a youth development initiative that enhances youth preparedness for higher education or entry into the workforce.

"The higher the level of education, the higher chance the youth have of creating a future for themselves and collectively, a better South Africa", said Noah.

His targeted investment in education comes at a time where South Africa's unemployment rate for those younger than 25 is at 65%. Millions don't complete school and for those who do, there is a mismatch between the availability and demand of workforce skills in our economy.

Microsoft president Brad Smith was also at the launch event at beneficiary school New Nation School in Vrededorp, Gauteng to co-announce the company's partnership with the foundation.

"We're excited to be here today at this special school to support Trevor as he brings opportunity to South African children. We understand first-hand the important role that technology plays in education and we're proud to partner with him by bringing digital tools and skills to schools like this," said Smith.

With Microsoft as the foundation's technology partner, under-resourced schools will have the opportunity to use technology as a tool to enhance the learning experience in classrooms. Beyond the classroom, digital literacy is a life skill that will continue to add value as the student transitions into further education, or their first job.

New Nation School is a government school that caters for orphans or children who find themselves outside of the traditional family structure. With the foundation's pilot program already underway, grade 9 to 12 learners at the schooll will receive psycho-social support, skills development interventions, and career guidance. By collecting data and monitoring outcomes, the foundation hopes to scale and share learnings with other organisations or even the government.

"Our greatest task this year is to figure out how best to scale, and then eventually allow New Nation School to continue down the path of success. We are working closely with the school to build the capacity of leadership and staff. Thinking about sustainability is crucial to achieving long-term change," said Shalane Yuen, executive director of the Trevor Noah Foundation.

Noah attributes his successes to receiving a good education and to his mother who was a powerful role model.

"My mom did what school didn't. She taught me how to think", he said in his book, Born a Crime.

In recognizing the power of education, the foundation was created to address the critical needs of other youth who are at risk of being left behind.

"Today was a day that I've always dreamed of but never thought I'd be able to see. It was one of the best days of my life," Noah said at the launch.

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