Pupils drive project for computer centre

At the back, Nande George, Sikhokelo Tyhali, Natasha Maka, Peter Smith from WNS, Asive Sivingcele and Aphiwe Mkhohliswa. In front are Onesipho Mjucu, Zethu Mphumlo and Aviwe Famse who were thrilled to be part of the opening of the computer lab.

Pupils and teachers at Sinethemba High School, in Phillippi, were on cloud nine on Friday November 18, when 16 Grade 11 pupils, in partnership with various organisations, officially opened the newly refurbished Qhubekeka Computer and Resource Centre.

The pupils raised the funds needed to refurbish the school’s dilapidated library and turn it into a modern resources centre. Among the fund-raising efforts undertaken by the pupils were car washes, hot dog sales and even furniture sales, raising more than R24 000 towards the project.

They also secured donations and funding from various businesses, including some of their parents’ employers.

The project was started in March by the Youth4Change movement, a community development initiative co-ordinated by WNS South Africa, a business process management company which helps South African youth to make a positive contribution in their own schools and communities. WNS provided start-up capital to the pupils and a group of employee volunteers to act as mentors and provide guidance.

The organisation also equipped the pupils with skills relating to public speaking and communication, problem solving and decision making, and growth in self-esteem and confidence.

And the pupils were responsible for the implementation of the project from the start to finish.

The idea to refurbish the library was a response to the pupils’ daily struggles to access computers and the internet.

Corporate social investment manager for WNS, Megan Meredith, said they wanted to create a strong foundation for sustainable initiatives and corporate social investment. She said that they hoped to educate, empower, and enrich under-privileged children and communities.

Ms Meredith emphasised experiential learning as the major facet of this initiative.

“The centre consists of 25 computers where lessons will be given about basic computer usage. And 40 new chairs. Knowing that they have created something not only for themselves, but also for the benefit of others, proves their ability to do good and make positive contributions to the lives of others. Those are the characteristics we need to take our country forward,” she said, adding that they had worked with an organisation called Khulisa which provides computer and information technology training.

Onesipho Mjucu, who was among the pupils who refurbished the library, said they struggled to access computers or the internet to do their school projects and that many pupils did not know how to use computers.

Onesipho explained that pupils were well aware that most jobs required computer literacy, hence the importance of learning to use this basic tool of trade while they were still at school.

“As a group of enthusiastic youth, we have decided not to sit on our hands, but rather use them to make our goal a reality. We are not just doing this, but we are doing this for our young brothers and sisters who will come after us,” she said.

School principal Nelson Poopedi said what the pupils did would have a long lasting impact on the school and he hoped that others would follow in their footsteps.