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Social Impact of an It Related Project

In: Computers and Technology

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Social Impact of an IT Related Project | Non-Government Organisation: Learn to Earn | | | | | | |

Learn to Earn is a non-profit organisation that was established in 1989 under the title of Baptist Training Centre. In 1995, under the directorship of Roché van Wyk the name of the organization was changed which demonstrated clearly the objective of this NGO. With unemployment rates in disadvantaged communities ranging between 30% and 70%, Learn to Earn aims to develop the skills of people living in these areas. Working especially with those that are unemployed, the organisation strives to create jobs and business opportunities for the economically and socially disadvantaged.
The training offered to individuals recognize the issues that arise due to the socio-economic situation in these poverty-stricken communities and aim to address social issues such as HIV/AID, literacy and numeracy as well as teaching students practical skills. (http://www.learntoearn.org.za/OurPhilosophy.htm)
Learn to Earn has training centres in Khayelitsha, Cape Town as well as in Zwelihe, near Hermanus. Since its establishment in 1989 more than 8800 people have been trained with various skills that would allow for potential employment. The core purpose of Learn to Earn is to empower individuals to provide for themselves and their families. By doing so, the training equips them with life skills to make them aware of human dignity and their human right to live a fulfilling and meaningful life based on self-respect. Some of Learn to Earn’s objectives are: * To train and develop all learners’ basic business, literacy and life skills. * To restore self-respect and dignity to people of disadvantaged communities and thus increasing their quality of life. * To train unemployed and disadvantaged people in various skills such as sewing, woodwork, baking and computer training.
Learn to Earn has many different training development projects that are currently in effect such as sewing, woodwork, baking and computer training.

The computer training development project provides disadvantaged learners with an opportunity to acquire various IT related expertise ranging from simple computer literacy skills, to more advanced computer related skills, such as graphic design. There are currently three IT related training courses running at Learn to Earn, namely, Graphic Design, Basic Computer Literacy and Office Administration.
Because most learners come from disadvantaged areas, the Basic Computer Literacy course only requires learners to be between the age of 18 years and 22 years as a prerequisite for the course. This course has duration of 3 weeks, but is adequate enough for learners who are completely new to computers and also for those who have some basic knowledge about computers. It demonstrates the fundamentals of working with personal computers in everyday life such as shutting down and restarting PCs and using Microsoft Windows, to tasks such as identifying computer hardware components and their functionality, file management techniques, and an introduction to Microsoft Word (in preparation for the more advanced courses in this development project). Life skills and basic business development are also integrated within this particular course, which is a key objective of Learn to Earn.
Office Administration is a ten week course that requires learners to be computer literate in order to enroll. This particular course shows learners important aspects about office administration like telephone etiquette, business communication as well as showing the students how to interact with the many software applications that belong to Microsoft’s Office suite such as MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint. How to use the internet and navigate through the World Wide Web is also demonstrated in this course.
Most noteworthy of the three courses is the graphic design course. As a prerequisite for this course, learners must be between 18 and 22 years of age. Additionally, a Matric Exemption Certificate, a complete entrance portfolio and Computer Literacy are required. During the 10 month period of this course, learners are introduced to the Apple Mac Operating System, graphic design software, namely, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Indesign and Adobe Illustrator. Students are also taught practical skills such as drawing, design, visual literacy and critical thinking.

IT projects such Learn to Earn Computer Training programme can pose many risks. One such risk is a lack funding by a project sponsor, however Learn to Earn has been funded by Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund since 2005. Another risk involved in this type of IT project is that students who have had the opportunity to take and complete the course do not make use of the skills that they have acquired. This is not the case for Learn to Earn. Many students that have completed the courses have continued their studies in graphic design and photography at various tertiary institutes such as the University of Stellenbosch, City Varsity and Cape Peninsula University of Technology. One such student, Siyanda Buzo, who is currently attending Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Bellville Campus), gave extremely positive feedback about Learn to Earn’s Graphic Design course: “Learn to Earn showed me my path. Now I’m one step closer to living my dreams. I can see clearly now!” (http://www.learntoearn.org.za/UserFiles/file/Graphic_Design_Feedback_Dec2009.pdf, page 2)
Clearly, this IT project has opened doors for disadvantaged students that have been struggling most of their lives. Although there are risks involved when starting an IT project of this sort, the benefits and rewards completely outweigh these risks by providing disadvantaged and unemployed members of society with a higher standard of living.

References

http://www.learntoearn.org.za/index.htm http://www.learntoearn.org.za/OurObjectives.htm http://www.learntoearn.org.za/OurPhilosophy.htm http://www.learntoearn.org.za/ComputerTraining.htm http://www.learntoearn.org.za/UserFiles/file/Graphic_Design_Feedback_Dec2009.pdf

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