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Cisco and the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) are launching a series of digital learning hubs across the country. The initiative is part of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme in South Africa.
The participating libraries include those in Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Free State, Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.
South Africa’s digital divide is one of the country’s biggest stumbling blocks to progress. Cisco’s 2022 Broadband Index found that improved quality of access to the internet has a major impact on the economy and society. Close to 90 % of local respondents agree that access to fast and reliable internet is critical to future economic growth as well as developing and maintaining a well-educated and informed population.
Digital learning hubs provide access to technology in disadvantaged communities and give them the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become employable in a technology-driven market
Applicants can enroll in their local library where they will receive support and access to a learning platform to complete the full range of Cisco Networking Academy self-paced courses. Cisco Networking Academy’s 775 hubs across Africa have already reached over 298 900 students through various universities, TVET Colleges, and public benefit organisations like the digital libraries.
“A truly digital economy only works when everyone has access,” says Smangele Nkosi, general manager for Cisco in South Africa. “Our priority is to get those underserved communities connected to the Internet, in many cases for the first time. Cisco’s corporate purpose is to ‘power an inclusive future for all’. We are committed to leveraging our technology and our unmatched network of industry partners to help bridge the digital divide. Our aim is to reach an additional one million students over the next five years through our networking academies and initiatives such as the digital learning hubs.”
The Acting Director-General of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms. Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani, notes that: “These digital learning hubs are another important initiative in our collaboration with Cisco, which supports our country’s national digitisation agenda. Delivering an understanding of IT basics to the country’s youth will help us expedite SA’s adoption of the fourth industrial revolution.”
National Librarian and CEO, Mr Kepi Madumo says, “The National Library of South Africa recognises the value of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in the lives of people as workers, learners and citizens. It is for this reason that the National Library collaborated with Cisco to empower librarians across all nine South African provinces with IT skills. With technology enhanced learning, libraries are in the best position to provide valuable information to help community members lead gainful lives; e-learning is one way in which libraries can remain relevant in the information and knowledge era.”
Last year, Cisco and NLSA piloted the project at the Germiston Library. Cisco has also trained 36 librarians across the country, preparing them to facilitate the IT programs within their communities.
The e-learning course is being offered for free to applicants who are unemployed and 16 years or older with basic IT knowledge. The three-months course includes content around IT Essentials Cyber Security, Internet of Things, Linux and Programming Essentials in Python.