NETWORK – Zuri Foundation will be sending the students to attend 10 months skills development program, brought by Zenzeleni Network NPC.
Zenzeleni Networks NPC, an award-winning ICT innovation NPO, will be launching the first-ever School of Community Networks this weekend. The School offers a 10-month skills’ development program for urban and rural community members who have an interest in bridging the digital divide in their communities.
The programme is designed to develop holistic and practical knowledge and skills that will provide learners the know-how to install and operate local internet networks in their home communities to provide access to affordable, quality internet services. This is a significant and concrete step towards empowering grassroots communities to close the digital divide. An important consequence of this is the creation of income generation opportunities for urban and rural communities.
South Africa has one of the highest costs of internet in the world. This effectively prevents much of the population from accessing digital opportunities and services. The School aims to tackle this problem head on by developing local skills and know-how which is essential for championing community-based internet service provision, and stimulating economic development.
The first cohort of students represents 7 digitally marginalised communities from 5 different provinces across South Africa. They begin training in Cape Town on 31 January 2022. Training includes intensive in- person and online experiences focused on developing technical, business, social and personal competencies. Students will be taken to visit four community networks in the rural Wild Coast, as well as in Soweto (Johannesburg), Khayelitsha and Ocean View (Cape Town).
The course is a first-of-its-kind tailored to the real needs and contexts of the participating communities, given that content development comprised a bottom-up multi-stakeholder co-design process. The content includes a certified Wireless Internet Service Provision (WISP) training component and a mentorship process, bridging communities to the telecommunication industry and introducing participants to social and professional networks.
This education programme has been designed by Zenzeleni Networks NPC in close collaboration with other South African Community Networks including V-NET and Black Equations in Cape Town, Soweto Wireless User Group (SOWUG) in Gauteng, and Mamaila Community Network in Limpopo, as well as other South African and international experts.
It is part of the global south initiative “Supporting Community-led Approaches to Addressing the Digital Divide” by the Association for Progressive Communication in partnership with Rhizomatica and counts on funding from the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme, the South African Department of Science and Innovation, the Technology Innovation Agency, Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the University of the Western Cape.