Thanks to a donation from Capitec, the MiDO Foundation was able to open yet another Digital Hub in less than five months – this time at New Orleans Secondary School in Paarl. In October, a digital hub was unveiled at Lückhoff High School in Stellenbosch.
Since launching in 2001, Capitec’s has transformed banking and has become South Africa’s biggest digital bank through an unwavering focus on its fundamentals of simplicity, affordability, accessibility, and personalised experience, combined with agility and digitalisation.
“You can disrupt almost anything with technology. Capitec disrupted banking through innovation and technology,” said Jean Rossouw, Head: Financial Education in Marketing and Communications at Capitec Bank during the launch of the hub.
“A digital hub lends itself to support various educational initiatives including after-school programmes. Capitec identified an opportunity where a digital hub could lend support to the Capitec Foundation’s educational programmes.”
Rossouw said that Capitec believes that the “space will allow learners to explore and collaborate with and through technology” and that the hub can “serve as an enabler that will support innovation and learning”.
“When it comes to technology, we should embrace change. The pace at which digital innovation and disruption is happening will continue to increase. As teachers and parents, we need to embrace technology for its potential to empower learners.”
New Orleans was one of a few schools that were evaluated on its readiness to open a digital hub and to implement and utilise technology for learning and teaching as well as the development of learners to become digital citizens.
Mr Andrew Groeneveld, New Orleans’ principal, has been at the school for 38 years – first serving as a teacher for six years and then leading the school in various management capacities for 32 years. He said that he was excited to have a digital hub at New Orleans and content in the knowledge that the school’s learners and teachers had a space on the school premises now that would provide them with the opportunity to learn and expand their digital skills and digital literacy.
“The moment I heard we had been selected to receive this hub, I created a committee consisting of some of our staff members, many of whom are young and quite technologically advanced. They will be our hub champions and will work together with Tarryn, our Digital Hub Coordinator, to come up with new and refreshing ideas about how this space can be used to its full potential and how we can continue to grow our learners’ digital knowledge and experience,” explained Groeneveld.
Digital Hub Coordinators are appointed by the MiDO Foundation to work in the digital hub to develop the digital and IT skills of learners and to guide the learners as they explore the technology on offer. Local young, unskilled, and unemployed individuals from low income communities are trained and equipped with technical knowledge and skills through the MiDO Foundation’s 12-month Digital Citizenship Programme, while also receiving an income. Tarryn Theunissen from Paarl will work as the coordinator at New Orleans.
Other sponsors that invested in the hub include PAV and Cecil Nurse. Ethan Achilles, a young man from Idas Valley, was responsible for designing the new hub.
Addressing the sponsors, Groeneveld said: “Our sincere thanks for your willingness to invest in the community of Paarl as well as other communities in our province. With this investment you are actually investing in the future of our country as this hub can help our learners and therefore our communities to prepare for the careers and professions of the future. Professions such as graphic design, robotics, coding, videography, and photography. It reminds me of the words of the Whitney Houston song – ‘I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way’. This hub will increase the opportunities available to our learners.”
According to Dale Simons, Managing Director of MiDO Technologies, the hub forms part of the foundation’s vision and mission to equip the youth with digital skills, digital literacy, and digital citizenship skills.
“We want to create pathways out of poverty for the youth of this country. That is what drives us. We want to address systemic poverty and economic dispossession and exclusion by ensuring our youth have the skills to uplift themselves. We often talk about creating jobs for our youth, but how can we create jobs if we are not also providing our youth with the skills they’ll need to do those jobs. We want our youth to see how technology can empower them and that is why our hubs are learner centred and based in schools,” explained Simons.
Also at the event, was foundation Board member Mr Mario Mufweba, who is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Pedagogy at Stellenbosch University and a Training Facilitator at the University of the Western Cape. Mufweba was part of the team that visited various schools to determine their readiness for a hub.
“This is a special school. In order to work towards creating a first class facility like this school requires confidence. But where does it start? It starts with a strong, visionary leadership. When we first came here, I saw the garden workers hard at work making this school a home for the children. I saw trophies and medals on display, which indicates that this school celebrates the achievements of its learners, and right next to the secretary’s office was a list of the A achievers in this school.”
“Mr Andrews walked us into his office and the first thing he did, was ask ‘sir can I call in my team?’. That is a leader that knows that he can only achieve what he wants to achieve with his team.”
Rodwin de Wet, Head Boy of New Orleans Secondary, and Head Girl Tori Pietersen, as well Deputy Head Girl Tendani Chebani and Deputy Head Boy, Andruwaldo Lakey, shared their hopes for how the space could be used.
“The hub is unlike any other class. It is a place to have fun and learn with increased efficiency. It will provide learners with the opportunity to learn digital skills, explore technology and expand their knowledge, which will open up a new world for them as they can now search for and apply to university, and increase their chances of finding a job after finishing school. It will expand learners education beyond their normal subjects and expose them to other career options in computer science and technology,” said Chebani.
She said that she was looking forward to learning new skills, like how to use Kahoots, a game-based learning platform; and coding, which she always wanted to learn, but did not have the financial resources to do.
“This hub will also help learners who do not have access to computers or wifi at home.”
De Wet thanked Capitec, PAV, Cecil Nurse, and the MiDO Foundation for making the hub a reality at the school.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time in the history of New Orleans Secondary that the learners are exposed to an environment such as this,” said De Wet.
“Yesterday I was privileged to be one of the first learners at our school to enter the newly created digital hub. When I stepped into the hub, the first thing I saw was the interior design, which looked incredible. The patterns on the wall made you feel calm, and the aesthetics of the room was modern and welcoming. It feels like a place where learners can express their creativity, where they can apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems.”
“One of the questions that learners always ask, is if school is preparing us for the 21st century and the digital space. This hub will be a space for learners to learn from each other and use technology along with skills like communication, collaboration, and innovation. This is just a few of the skills learners will need to succeed as jobs now require us to have technological skills,” added De Wet.
Like the school principal, staff, learner leadership, and hub coordinator, Simons is optimistic about the impact that the hub will have on New Orleans.
“Once you open that door, our learners will open our eyes to things we have not yet discovered ourselves. Something great is going to happen once the learners start to use this space to learn and discover.”
“This partnership that we have built with Capitec and sponsors like PAV and Cecil Nurse has once again proven the value of working together towards a common goal. Current learners and future generations will now reap the rewards of this investment. This is why I believe in the African proverb that says – ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’,” said Simons.
To connect with the MiDO Foundation, contact Nadine at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 628 3861.