Getting onto the ICT train

MENTOR. Cojedi coordinator Khathu Mashau assists Tshepo Thabo with a module at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg. Pictures: Refilwe Modise

MENTOR. Cojedi coordinator Khathu Mashau assists Tshepo Thabo with a module at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg. Pictures: Refilwe Modise

A new education programme, called City of Joburg Educate Digital Interns (Cojedi), offers hope to students from disadvantaged families and those who had to drop out of school for financial reasons.

During his recent State of the City Address, mayor Parks Tau announced Joburg would engage in partnerships with FiberCo, Microsoft, Cisco, the Technology Innovation Agency and the Nunnovation Africa Foundation to upskill and train 1 000 young people interested in information communications technology (ICT).

One of the interns, Akani Hlungwani told The Citizen how much the programme had helped him. “I studied IT at Rosebank College but I was unable to find a job after my graduation,” he said.

Hlungwani found the Cojedi workload difficult, but was glad to have had the opportunity to study through the programme. Another intern, Tshepo Thabo, who dropped out of his engineering diploma at University of Johannesburg, said the opportunity had come at the right time.

“I had changed from engineering to a BCom accounting because I was struggling with my studies,” he said. “When Cojedi opened its doors, I jumped at the opportunity and, luckily, I was selected.”

Cojedi director Khathu Mashau said the programme focused on driving innovation and entrepreneurship through critical thinking, preparing students for employment and empowering them to participate in the mainstream ICT sector.

“The city has developed a strong broadband connectivity around its local communities, but the challenge is that there are not enough human resources to maintain the infrastructure, let alone the necessary skills to effectively sustain the connectivity to be effective,” said Mashau.

The interns were being prepared to meet the demands of the connectivity that underpins the development of “smart cities”. “The students will have an opportunity to explore smart cities’ connectivity in developed countries, exposing them to innovation and an innovative mindset,” added Mashau.

Karabo Mohamo, who dropped out of college because of financial constraints, said the programme had offered her a life-changing opportunity.

“I was working because I did not have enough money to further my studies. When the city said it needed interns, I took a chance and I got in,” said Mohamo. The programme is assisting a first cohort of 280 interns, who are undergoing detailed four-month technical training.

However, about 20 interns have dropped out for various reasons. Some did not cope with the programme’s technical aspects, while others were unable to continue due to family responsibilities.

The city had made a significant investment in the programme, said Zolani Matebese, the head of broadband at the City of Johannesburg.

It offered the potential to transform the lives of the interns, as well as the people in the city. Interns are guaranteed six months’ employment at companies partnering with the city.

Applications for the second cohort of interns open today.

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