Although TVS has an extensive IT programme for primary school children (more on this in a future blog), we are unable to work with many secondary school students. Many still leave school with no experience of using a computer, common software programmes, managing files or using the internet. So for the past 3 years TVS has run a two-week study camp for school leavers at the end of the school year (early December). The study camp introduces students to Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel, using the internet, and preparing and formatting CVs.
In autumn 2017 we asked secondary schools in Tyume Valley to identify around 25 students for the December 2017 IT study camp. We wanted to focus on those most likely to get good results in their Matriculation examinations and therefore be able to progress to further/higher education or take advantage of local employment opportunities.
The study camp was run by TVS Committee member Liz Button, volunteer Sally Hamilton, TVS’s IT trainers Vuvu Tomi and Nontombi Siyanga, TVS ‘graduate’ Selby and a volunteer from Hobbiton Outdoor Activities Centre at Hogsback, where the first week of the camp took place. During this first week, students were introduced to basic IT skills, with their time split between the IT classroom and a range of Hobbiton outdoor activities. Students stayed overnight at Hobbiton, under Nontombi and Selby’s supervision.
For the second week, students were given travel expenses and had to make their own way each day to Fort Hare University in nearby Alice, which has reliable internet connections. Here students learned about internet searching – and about safety in internet use. The week included a workshop to help the students identify their skills, strengths and experiences to list on a CV. For some, this was a surprisingly difficult challenge that reflected students’ low expectations and lack of confidence. All the instruction was in English (as of course is IT software) – another challenge for some students.
By the end of the first week the vast majority of students reported greater self-confidence, more self-awareness and new computing skills. At the end of the second week, the most common gains were reported to be in Word, Powerpoint, managing files/USB sticks and using the internet for emails. And their motivation, enthusiasm and commitment to learning was inspiring!
Today I can use my laptop, do school things without going to school, all thanks to you. I am doing my first year at University of Forte Hare, as I wish for.
Thank you bringing such an awesome, bright star into my life.