Teachers take on computer literacy

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By GEMMA RITCHIE

It’s not only school children learning the ins and outs of computers at Awarenet. Teachers are learning a thing or two, too!

Civil society organisation Awarenet, based at the Joza Youth Centre, has rolled out a weekly programme where it trains teachers in computer literacy. The programme started in April this year with funding from KPMG SA’s public interest fund.

Awarenet’s project coordinator Daksha Naran and intern Zintle Vambe are heading the pilot programme to train teachers from Nombulelo High School and Archie Mbolekwa Primary School. The course involves teaching teachers how to use Information Communications Technology (ICT) software programs such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Through this program teachers are also being trained with basic computer knowhow; mastering keyboard strokes, mouse skills and interpreting MS word ribbon and tab functions.

The courses began at the beginning of the second term of the school year and was initially held at the Joza Youth Hub. But, with the Department of Education’s move to prepare and “resurrect”, the ICT centres at several schools within the Makana municipal catchment, computer literacy classes now take place at the teachers’ own schools. Access to the schools computer facilities have meant that teachers can gain individual assistance during their free periods.

Archie Mbolekwa Primary School teacher, Gkezwa Kepe, who teaches Grade seven and nine first additional language English, said the sessions had been very helpful.

“We have always used computers, but now we are learning techniques we never knew that will help us with our lesson planning.”

Awarenet manager Kjetil Torp expressed his gratitude that Naran and Vambe could support teachers at their respective schools. With the high number of school children visiting Awarenet in the afternoon, there was just not enough space for both teachers and school learners.

“It benefits the teachers to use computers in their workplace,” said Torp. It is easier for the teachers to join the computer classes in the computer lab at the end of the school day.

The Department of Education in the Eastern Cape had shown teachers how to use the laptops when they were handed out. The problem was, as teachers, they were too busy with their usual schedules to practice what they learnt. Nikiwe Gqeke who teaches grade four, five and six Social Sciences and Life skills classes, said she was grateful for the Awarenet classes in the afternoons where she could refresh her skills.

Awarenet hopes to expand their pilot project to other teachers interested in learning more about computers and ICT. There is an advantage to replicate the “open lab model” offered by Awarenet and introduce programmes that will keep school ICT classrooms open in the afternoon so school learners and teachers alike can use the ICT resources.

“We are experimenting with the programme,” Naran told Grocott’s Mail. “We want to help teachers with what they need.”

If you would like to find out more about the programs and/or join the teachers training sessions, email Naran at daksha@awarenet.org.

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