Leading change

Elderly become tech savvy through Unisa

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has reached out to the elderly community to educate and train them in technology through a short-term development programme.

Unisa lecturers, back, Prof. Bobby Tait, Tayo Abatan, and Kenneth Patel, and, front, Taiba Rizvi, Motselisi Chere, Annie Matthew, Elisha Ochola, and Dr Shawren Singh (Not present: Drina du Plessis) Photos: Liziwe Mbha

Ms HW du Plessis gave the Record some insight into the course and its structure.

“As part of our Computer Literacy for Communities (CLIC) community engagement project, Unisa’s School of Computing presented a free personal computer literacy course for 30 senior citizens over the age of 55 years, over a two-week period. The practical sessions required all participants to have home access to a personal computer running the Windows 7 system, and to be available to attend twelve three-hour morning sessions at the Unisa Science Campus in Florida.”

Senior Lecturer Dr Shawren Singh provided a brief description of CLIC and the intricate details behind it.

“It is an annual event and we are trying to get as many locals involved as possible in the project. The main object for us is that we have this large university but a lot of people don’t know what’s happening inside it.

We want people to come in, especially our senior citizens who are a wonderful resource that we are not utilising or empowering. We want them to come here and interact with our students across the corridor and spread the concept that at any point or time, you can learn. We covered the basics of how to use the internet, computers, and how to send emails. Essentially, we wanted to empower them to break that ice so they can use the technology to communicate with their families. They can do simple things like shop and read local news online.”

Singh said they have reached their goals for the programme, but have no intention of slowing down.

Dr Shawren Singh and 85-year-old student, Eileen Foxcroft

Dr Shawren Singh and proud granny, Pusetso Mablane

“Right now, the programme runs when the computer labs are free from exams and lessons, but from next year, we would like to run it on a weekly basis. What we have done is asked people to comment and tell us what they would like to see more of, and how would they like the programme to run to suit them. We will then take that information and process it to see which will be the best method moving forward.

“The programme is open to everyone because it is a community engagement project. We advertise in the local newspaper and generally the community around the campus comes along, because of the logistics of getting here and back. Our numbers have grown quite significantly and many have requested to come back for more lessons,” he added.

*By Liziwe Mbha

This article first appeared in the Roodepoort Record on 23 October 2017 and is used by permission. You can read the original article here.

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