Technology aids street children

1 November 2005

In a new community project, street children are now being introduced to the wonderful world of science and technology.

In line with the industry`s mandate of using technology in disadvantaged communities to enhance education and impart ICT skills to members of the community, Digital Hope, in conjunction with the South African Police Services (SAPS), are embarking on pilot projects that should see street children receiving International Computers Drivers License (ICDL) certification.

The main objective of the project is to establish a seven-week course that will use the ICDL curriculum to train youth in basic and advanced computer skills, whilst simultaneously resolving challenges faced by the police and department of social development, in eliminating social crime.

Garry Hodgson, executive director at Digital Hope says they have been looking at a number of ways in which to assist government in encouraging youths living on the streets, to become an integral part of the country`s economic society.

“The police have been experiencing a number of problems with street children and we feel that the training, coupled with a number of fundamental basic human needs, should serve as a great incentive for the children to complete the programme thus becoming marketable and eventually self-sufficient.”

The SAPS has made an initial investment of R1,5 million for the establishment and support of the programme over the first six months. This is set to cover the establishment of adequate training facilities in Hillbrow (Johannesburg) and Sunnyside (Pretoria), their registration at official ICDL training and examination centres at a cost of R10 000 each and course material to be given to the students.

Keeping track

To enable the SAPS and training centres to keep track of the youth`s participation in the various elements of the programme as well as the “drop-in” feeding schemes, each participating member will be given either a bar-coded identification card containing a photo and basic details or a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) bracelet, depending on the availability of funds.

Hodgson says that Digital Hope, as a section 21 organisation, will be responsible for the sourcing of sponsorship of additional elements, which will assist in providing the students with the other fundamentals they need to survive.

He says that to further ensure that these youths stay off the streets for extended periods of time, an extra mural activity programme has been drawn up which includes music, crafts and drama.