IT in Khayelitsha

19 April 2005

When it comes to acquiring what today are must-have skills in information technology, learners from Khayelitsha are often holding up the rear.

But now Shawco, the UCT Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation, is giving a group of these learners a huge leg-up. With money from the likes of Microsoft and the National Lottery, the organisation opened an IT centre - fitted out with 30 state-of-the-art computers - in the community in March.

UCT students will head for the centre Monday to Saturday afternoons and teach 90 learners from schools in the area some basic computer skills, such as how to use Windows and the suite of Office packages. Once the proper lines are installed, the machines will also be connected to the Internet.

"This project is a huge leap for these students as we are providing them with skills and resources they have only ever read about," says Georgie George, a master's student in the Department of Electrical Engineering who set up the machines in the centre. "We are hoping that this centre will help empower the community, and who knows, we may even find the next Bill gates here." Varkey George, Shawco director, sees the centre as a long-term investment in Khayelitsha and its youth. "I can promise you that the skills that your children are going to get, can be used for the rest of the lives," he told parents at the opening of the facility.

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