The Bulungula Tech Centre, a 16-computer-station hub based at Nqileni, was developed in partnership with The Delta, as a pilot project for rural schools. Picture: Supplied.
The Bulungula Tech Centre, a 16-computer-station hub based at Nqileni, was developed in partnership with The Delta, as a pilot project for rural schools. Picture: Supplied.

Tech centre to empower rural pupils started by graduates

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Sep 25, 2021

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Cape Town - With Covid-19 giving rise to innovation, six graduates from UCT decided to offer pupils in the rural regions of the Eastern Cape a technological leg-up by constructing a scalable, low-cost tech centre to equip them with the necessary tools and skills to secure their future.

The Bulungula Tech Centre, a 16-computer-station centre in Nqileni village, was erected by the graduates in collaboration with The Delta in order to improve educational resources in the region and offer pupils with basic computer literacy skills they would need in their future endeavours.

Developers Zak Essa, Ryan Anderson, Claude Formanek, Nicolas Reid and Callum Tilbury and Jonathan Hart sat together in the lounge to steer their vision in the right direction.

“The development of the centre started in Claude’s lounge with a handful of Raspberry Pis that we borrowed from friends.

“Since we were all working full-time jobs at the time. With the assistance of The Delta, we were then able to purchase all the hardware we needed.

“They also kindly let us use some of their office space as the lounge was no longer big enough for our needs. Upgrading from the lounge to a tech-startup-esque office was a big jump for us.

Learners in the rural region of the Eastern Cape at a low-cost tech centre built to equip them with the necessary tools and skills to secure their future. SUPPLIED

“Fast forward three months, and the centre was rolled out at Bulungula College over two weeks. We spent the first few days getting our hands dirty: sanding, painting and drilling. After which, we inserted the Raspberry Pis, router, switch, and central server and wired them all together.

“To date there are currently 16 PCs for the students to use, all connected to the internet and all able to access shared educational material on the Kolibri digital-learning platform,” said Essa.

As the community surrounding the Bulungula Incubator, The Delta chief executive Louis Buys said they saw an opportunity to make a change.

“I feel like learning about this community and how they interact with technology will help us design solutions that could be enjoyed by them and other communities like them. We want to align our ventures towards actual value, actual commitment to the customer, and actual social impact.

“I hope overall that the centre proves to be empowering and instil a greater sense of curiosity in the learners. I can imagine that for some, who may be using the Internet for the first time, there is an overwhelming world of possibilities.

“I hope that students learn to see that as an opportunity and not something to be afraid of,” said Buys.

In the two months since the centre was erected, it has been helping matric learners to apply to universities, acquire information on possible employment, and complete financial literacy courses.

With more than 120 learners becoming computer literate, Hart said that one should never be afraid of sharing opportunities with those around them.

“The beautiful thing about education and knowledge is that we can pass it on. Ideas are not limited resources. If you have an education and your neighbours do not, spend some time transferring some of that knowledge to them.

“Change can happen slowly but it is happening nonetheless, hence never Never give up on the hopes and dreams that you have in making the change that you need to make,” he said.

Weekend Argus

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