Fintech specialist company, e4, recently launched a computer centre to benefit the 900 students of Diepdale Secondary School in Soweto, Gauteng. Partnering with Melisizwe Computer Lab Project, e4 provided resources for a full renovation including aesthetic upgrades, functional items and technology supplies including a smartboard, air conditioners and 33 computers for use by students and educators.
As a technology company, e4 is passionate about initiatives that support education in technology and believes that investments such as the Diepdale Secondary School computer centre are crucial for the development of the next generation of young leaders as the driving force behind digital innovation. Adri Führi, Group Chief Financial Officer, e4, says: “People and technology are at the core of our business. We must look both inside and outside the organisation to support our strategic growth. Enabling both the development of school and community technology skills enables us and other organisations in our industry to remain relevant as part of the 4th industrial revolution.”
Führi adds that because IT skills in South Africa are scarce, upskilling the youth is particularly important for e4. “We are proud to play a role in bringing much-needed resources to as many young people as possible, knowing the power that technology has to change lives,” she says. The computer centre will allow Diepdale Secondary School pupils to learn Computer Applications Technology (CAT) as part of their curriculum and master basic computer literacy skills. In addition to the assistance provided by e4, the computer centre is funded and will be maintained by other key sponsors, corporates, and MICT SETA which will provide training for students and teachers.
The project brought together e4 and the Melisizwe School Computer Project, a non-profit dedicated to developing computer labs for schools in need and providing IT skills training in various youth programmes. Diepdale Secondary School was selected due in part to the Principal, Mr Munyakisi’s passionate advocacy for his pupils and their right to education. It was immediately clear that our values were aligned. “e4 heeded the call to assist in providing access to computers so learners can matriculate with computer literacy skills. With the help of more sponsors, Melisizwe will be enabled to bridge the digital divide and ensure no one is excluded from participating in the digital economy,” says Führi.
The lack of computer infrastructure in underprivileged areas is well documented: “The stark reality is that we live in a country where youth unemployment is endemic. We also live in a digital age, yet young people are still matriculating with no form of computer literacy which further exacerbates the problem. Urgent interventions are needed that bring resources to the youth. We have seen lives transformed through initiatives like this and are so grateful to sponsors like e4 for supporting our vision and helping us bridge the digital divide,” says Candice Kern-Thomas, Melisizwe Founder and Director.
In a jubilant opening ceremony held on Friday 7 May, Führi took the opportunity to thank the teams involved in making this initiative a successful endeavour. “It was a wonderful experience being able attend the launch of the computer centre. We are extremely pleased with the end product and today it was clear to all of us that we chose the right school. This school takes the education of their scholars seriously. We are certain that they will use the equipment and the computer centre to its fullest and ensure that the children of this community are able to start realising their future, today.”