28 October 2021

Digital competency has always been a highly valued skill. Even more so since the pandemic, which saw both learners and educators having to adapt to online learning and teaching.

The University of Mpumalanga, through the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has embarked on a journey to offer a Mobile Digital Literacy course to surrounding schools, which will benefit learners when they get to university next year.

“The programme prepares high-school learners on what to expect when they reach university level, familiarizing them with platforms that are used in online learning and technologies used at university level. Moreover, the aim is also to promote the University of Mpumalanga as an institution of choice to learners,” says UMP CoLab Technical Facilitator, Armstrong Makome.

“The initiative of bringing 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) courses to local schools creates awareness to help facilitate the growth and knowledge base in the spectrum of 4IR which involves learning about robotics and artificial intelligence. Bringing the initiative to schools will rebuild child growth in the sphere of how technology works." 

Grade 12 learner, Hlolego Khoza from Dayimani High School in Bushbuckridge, wants to study dentistry next year and is grateful for the experience. She says technological skills will be useful in her new journey post matric.

“It’s been a great experience as we get to learn about what happens on the other side of matric (university). Learning about technology is a great deal for me. I do not have to do everything physically, computers can do the work for you,” she adds. “I also received a certificate.”

Makome adds that the program aims to navigate through technology and helping young people to understand the purpose of 4IR in our lives. He emphasizes the importance for learners and teachers to learn about technology. 

“A 16-year-old child who is learning 4IR has more probability of pursuing technological innovation courses which will foster growth in the country. Let us imagine a country with more than one million young people from high schools who are doing courses under 4IR, that’s a huge step looking at the scope of the country’s technological innovation and growth,” he continues.

“These courses are detailed to give out knowledge-based information on how learning in schools can be simplified using technology such as laptops, emails, and for teachers to learn courses such as D-Governance and more, which enables the growth of a country’s skilled personnel.”

Ms Zandi Mnisi, an educator at the same school agrees that the programme will assist learners with computer skills and will have a positive impact on them as they progress in future.

The benefits of this initiative include certificates after completion, 6-hour lessons and catering. Other schools that are in line to be trained are around the Ehlanzeni region, Lekazi, Daantjie and Mataffin. 

Other core functions of the UMP CoLab is to identify the areas of scanning and to conduct e-Skill gap analysis, construct a network of multi-stakeholders from provincial and national communities to promote the e-skilling of the people of Mpumalanga, co-ordinate and deliver research relevant to e- skilling needs and the evaluation of the impact of e-skilling projects which will lead to the development of a national Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and a taxonomy for research into e-skills development.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures Supplied.