CAPE TOWN, SAMORA MACHEL – 20 February 2023. Digital literacy remains among the most sought after skills in the job market today. Sixty Grade 12 learners from Sophumelela Secondary School in Samora Machel have raised the digital bar as they work towards the qualifying criteria for certification in Information Technology.
Lack of Digital Literacy and End User Computer Skills continue to fuel youth unemployment
Learners in lower quintile no-fee schools do not have the necessary skills in digital literacy required to even be considered for entry into the mainstream economy post-schooling. - a number that translates into millions of learners nationally who have been excluded from the digital economy, rendered irrelevant in a competitive job market, ill-equipped to brave the fourth industrial revolution, unemployable and missing out on the infinite opportunities available to them through digital literacy skills.
Despite the many interventions initiated by the government, business and civil society to address youth unemployment, six out of ten young South Africans between the ages of 15 and 35 are not economically active, according to the StatsSA Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Nearly two million young job-seekers remain discouraged, having given up hope on finding a job. Transferable skills remain a key determinant for the successful employment of youth.
Digital Literacy partnership yields promising results for marginalised learners in Cape Town
The South African Education Project (SAEP) pioneered the digital literacy skills course and obtained accreditation for Digital Literacy in terms of the ETQA Regulations No: R 1127 for a National Certificate in IT: End User Computing - NQF Level 3, in March 2022. The Literacy pilot programme is currently being implemented together with Information Technology Service Implementation partner, MasterGradeIT (MGIT).
SAEP spokesperson, Shane Everts, confirms the Digital Literacy Programme was well received, “The programme was oversubscribed on the first day with classes exceeding 50 learners and we were unfortunately not able to accommodate all the interested learners on the pilot programme due to funding and infrastructure constraints”
“The enormous demand for Digital Literacy is clear and from preliminary results of those learners who are participating in the pilot programme, the majority demonstrated their eagerness to learn with some learners maintaining their formative assessments to date above the 1st percentile”
“This accredited Programme and Certification will enhance learners’ access to learnership opportunities, paid internships and admission to tertiary education institutions and aims to migrate our most vulnerable towards economic participation, accelerate job market readiness and further enable learners to pursue improved employment prospects post-matric,” said Everts.
The Information Technology Service Implementation Partner, MasterGradeIT, was appointed by SAEP in 2022 to facilitate the Digital Literacy Pilot Programme.
MasterGradeIT Managing Member and Owner, Gabriel Verhoef say his in-person visit to Sophomelela Secondary left him with a sense of enthusiasm and reinforced the immense and vital need for learners to have access to Information Technology “One of the first things that impressed me was how well and uniformly each one of the learners was dressed. They take great pride in their school uniform and it conveys an impression of belonging, and ownership of their brand.”
“I was further impressed with how well such a relatively large group of young people behaved. Learners were courteous and attentive and when prompted were eager to engage with the instructor. I personally engaged the group with questions during the lecture that I attended, and enjoyed their enthusiasm and willingness to participate. It left me with the distinct impression that the students, even at an advanced time of the day, were enthusiastic and keen to learn what was presented to them.”
“Information Technology is pervasive in modern society and any learner with little or no exposure to technology is at a great disadvantage. The organisers and funders of this initiative should be applauded for their investment in terms of financing and time vested in our youth” Verhoef concluded.
Learner Experience fun and educational at the same time
MGIT senior instructor, Richard Gomo, has every Digital Literacy learner, some of whom have never worked with a computer before, eating from the palm of his hand “Instilling Digital Literacy knowledge in these kids, some with little knowledge and some with no prior knowledge has been a great experience, especially with the positive responses we have received”
“Their punctuality has been impressive, besides having to deal with their busy school schedule, these learners make every effort to be there on time, eager to learn. Most of these kids don’t have access to technology or computer equipment at home, it would have been a great thing if they had access to the equipment for further application of skills learnt, outside of the school environment” said Gomo.
Upon completion of the training, learners who have fully committed to the SAEP Digital Literacy Programme will receive a certificate of attendance and those learners who meet the qualifying criteria and standards will receive a SETA accredited certificate once deemed competent, following their successful portfolio of evidence submission.
The majority of South African schools have no internet connection for the purpose of teaching and learning.
According to the National Education Infrastructure Management System report, out of 23 258 primary and high schools (including 2 154 independent schools) reported by the government in 2022, only 4 695 had internet connectivity for teaching and learning. A total of 6 770 schools (29%) were connected to the internet for administration purposes only.
The Information, Communication and Technology Sector report published in March 2022 by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) confirms the total number of schools connected to the internet was 6 085 (26.1%) in 2021, leaving nearly 80% of schools in South Africa with no internet connectivity for teaching and learning.
The work of the South African Education Project (SAEP) would not be possible without generous support from donors. We extend our gratitude and thanks to Grand Slots CSI for supporting the SAEP Digital Literacy programme.
VIEW THE PICTURE GALLERY
Mr Shane Everts, Head of Communications and Fundraising, South African Education Project (SAEP) 082 537 8721, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Gabriel Verhoef, Managing Member and Owner, MasterGradeIT, 0836000514, email@example.com
SAEP is a registered non-profit and public benefit organisation operating a multi-cohort programme promoting access and better education outcomes among children and young adolescents in marginalised communities. Our mission is to prepare and motivate children and youth from under-resourced communities to thrive, through education, life skills, and psycho-social support. www.saep.org
MASTERGRADE IT is an outcomes-based computer training institute delivering relevant and appropriate education and training in Coding/Programming, IT Security, IT Networking, Web and Application Design and several other courses the training institute presented over the span of two-and-a-half decades in response to South Africa's most pressing need, education. www.mastergradeit.co.za
 Maluleke, R. (2022). StatsSA Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) Q1:2022. [online] Available at: https://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0211/Presentation%20QLFS%20Q1%202022.pdf [Accessed 19 Feb. 2023].  The Mail & Guardian. (2022). How to bring young people into the South African economy. [online] Available at: https://mg.co.za/opinion/2022-08-03-how-to-bring-young-people-into-the-south-african-economy/?utm_source=m%26g&utm_medium=m%26g&utm_campaign=op-ed [Accessed 19 Feb. 2023].