Vexospark Community Technology Centre is run in various rural communities across Limpopo. More than 16,000 women have benefitted from this initiative.
More than 16,000 young women in Limpopo’s rural communities have become computer literate and have basic skills in entrepreneurship through the help of the Vexospark Community Technology Centre.
Play Your Part ambassador William Makgaba is the founder of this initiative. He says that in 2006 his life changed drastically when he was not able to open an MS Word document. Those around him laughed at his inability.
“Since 2004 I worked as a gardener. In 2006, an old lady for whom I was working, helped to register me with Unisa.
“At Unisa we had to type assignments which was something I couldn’t do at that time.”
Being laughed at made Makgaba self-conscious and he dropped out. “I then realised that so many people from rural communities will also be victimised if I don’t stand up and do something.”
He started the Vexospark initiative in 2008, he says, shortly after he received a computer from the woman who had helped him to get into Unisa. He started training people how to use it.
He had studied PC engineering at Pinnacle Business College in 2004 and in 2008 he completed an End-User Computing course at the University of Limpopo.
Makgaba says his initiative helps students to register at Unisa at its centres. “The students can also do their assignments for Unisa and change modules at our centres.”
The Vexospark Community Technology Centre focuses on disabled people, women and youth.
Makgaba, who is from Madiga village in the Ga-Dikgale area of Polokwane, says his project works in five municipalities, namely:
- Greater Tzaneen – Here, it helps special schools with 3D virtual learning environments and runs Intel’s She Will Connect programme that teaches women computer literacy.
- Blouberg – Here, it gives information and communications technology in education training and runs She Will Connect.
- Polokwane – Here, it gives entrepreneurial business skills training and runs She Will Connect.
- Mogalakwena – As in Blouberg, it gives information and communications technology in education training and runs She Will Connect.
- Greater Tubatse – Here, it runs She Will Connect.
Brand South Africa journalist Melissa Javan spoke to Makgaba:
Melissa Javan: Why did you start this project?
William Makgaba: The use of ICT is limited to urban people; people in marginalised communities are being left out of processes that affect their lives. I am also driven by the need to close the gender gap when it comes to technology. I am aware of the danger of not making use of technology for access to information, the lack of speed in implementation and the slow roll out of technology. And I am interested in the evolution of ICT.
MJ: What is your project’s name?
WM: It’s called Vexospark Community Technology Centre.
MJ: As a community worker, what are your highlights so far?
WM: She will Connect – 16,330 women from the age of 15 in rural Limpopo are now computer literate and have basic entrepreneurial skills, supported by Intel and Siyafunda.
ICT in education – high school maths and science learners are getting great results, supported by the P.E.A.C.E Foundation Trust.
Entrepreneurial business skills – women between the ages of 18 and 35 have learned entrepreneurship skills, supported by Siyafunda, Mastercard and Junior Achievement SA.
MJ: To play your part in society, how can you get your community involved in a project or initiative?
WM: Step one is to love your community. You will always be happy if everything you do for your community is from the heart. Step two is to network. No man is an island. Networking with others will help you to help your community. Step three is to register your organisation. It is very important to have a registered entity to help you get some funding.
MJ: Why should all South Africans play their part in their communities and be brand ambassadors for South Africa?
WM: We can only reach the highest height if we encourage, teach, guide, learn and support each other.
MJ: Are you one of the teachers in these ICT projects?
WM: Nope. I have eight trainers now. My job is to go to communities, find the problem and ask for help from institutions to resolve that problem.
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