Changing the world, one IT Boot Camp at a time

CTW oneSiyabonga Vilikazi (centre) (17) fromZitikeni High School scooped the competition prize, with 16-year-old Khotofo Takgafela (right) from Diepsloot Combined Schoolcoming second, and Phumzilema Mathuthu (left), also 16, from Rabasotho High School, third

In partnership with the Dell Development Fund and Tata Consultancy Services, the Change the World organisation hosted its second ICT and IT Boot Camp competition for high school students on Saturday 21 June, with top students from schools around Tembisa and Diepsloot participating.

“This is really to give them a chance to create something beautiful on their own and really get a taste of what it’s like to be a programmer and to get more into IT and consider it as a career option,” explained Jonathan Novotny, co-founder and programme director at the Change the World Trust.

The organisation offers IT and ICT training workshops to school pupils in Tembisa Alexandra, Olivenhoutbosch , Zandspruit and Diepsloot to help the pupils improve their IT skills to successfully join the modern world of work.

“I think it’s exciting for them to start with nothing and finish with a project that has some of their own characteristics and carries some of their own interests.”

Pupils from Rabasotho Combined School, Diepsloot Combined School and Zithikini High School gathered at the Wings of Life Centre in Diepsloot to compete for the grand prize of an RCT Android Tablet valued at just under R2 000.

“They’re all 10th and 11th graders; we don’t take any matric students into the Boot Camp because we don’t want to interfere with their preparations for the exams coming up at the end of the year,” said Natalie Emery, co-founder of the Trust.

“We do however we involve most senior students who we feel have a passion and desire to learn IT in our programmes.”

TOP OF THE CLASS

The competition challenged pupils to build a static three-page website using the HTML/CSS coding language they had been taught during their courses.

“They’re very confident,” Emery said; “I’ve had a variety of responses; some of them feel that it’s very complicated and others feel that maybe it’s too easy.

“They’ve had quite a few classes with our trainers so I’m sure they all know what’s going on. What I’ve seen from them so far makes me feel that we’re doing the right things.”

The Change the World courses cover basic computer operation, programmes such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel and more advanced subjects such as HTML/CSS coding and programming.

Siyabonga Vilikazi (17) fromZitikeni High School scooped the competition prize, with 16-year-old Khotofo Takgafela fromDiepsloot Combined Schoolcoming second, and Phumzilema Mathuthu, also 16, from Rabasotho High School, third.

A confident Vilikazi said, “I’ve always been interested in computers and how they work and I wanted to learn more about IT, so when I was told at school that we were going to be trained in the use of computers and IT I was very excited.

“Winning this competition has encouraged me to pursue a career in IT.

“If it wasn’t for Change the World and this boot camp I wouldn’t have known that I’m capable of making my own website. It has opened my eyes.”

Marlin Madondo, head of donor relations and marketing for Change the World, said the organisation’s students have taken to programming and “some of them say they are really considering careers in the IT industry”.

CTW twoThe learners were given the task of creating a static three-page website using laptops and the HTML/CSS coding knowledge they had acquired from the workshops that the organisation had been running at their schools during previous months

THE CHANGE THE WORLD INTERN PROGRAMME

“If you look at the world the way it is, technology is the way forward. So what we’re trying to do is spark an interest in IT amongst young students and hopefully impart these skills … and give them that initial footing they can use to go on and pursue these careers,” Madondo said.

In light of this, Change the World encourages some students to join the organisation as trainers. Once the students complete the courses they are encouraged to “give back” by enrolling in intern programmes where they are deployed to training centres. The best-performing interns can opt to join the organisation as full-time trainers.

“We can’t just preach employment without trying to create some ourselves,” explained Madondo; “We hope to expand more and as we do so it will allow us to take on more of the talented youngsters that come through our programmes.

“Right now we’re operating in two provinces; the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, but we’re looking to spread into Limpopo, the Western Cape, the North West and Mpumalanga and maybe, to a certain extent, reach out beyond our borders to places like Malawi, Mozambique or Zimbabwe.

“But for us, as long as we see the value in what we’re doing our growth will be organic.”

PLAY YOUR PART

To get involved or learn more about Change the World visit the organisation’s website, email marlin@changetheworld.org.za, or call 27 (0)71 5333 656 or +27 (0)11 455 2282.