Coding for ex-convicts a great help

2016-01-21 06:00
 The Brothers For All Coding Centre in Langa keeps youth and prisoners buys by teaching them computer based techniques and make them ready for employment.

The Brothers For All Coding Centre in Langa keeps youth and prisoners buys by teaching them computer based techniques and make them ready for employment.

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Skills training opportunities have sprung up for the youth of Langa, thanks to the work of Brothers For All.

Founded by ex-prisoner Sihle Tshabalala, he excitedly told City Vision that this year they will be offering accredited training courses in computer coding.

“We are very happy to have formed partnerships with Forefront Systems, Nona Creative and Woolworths. These companies are offering paid internships opportunities to our top students,” he said.

Tshabalala said they were now recruiting those who want to “take up these opportunities”.

“This is game changing adventure and we are looking for dreamers between the ages of 18-35 years. They can have matric or not but must be unemployed,” he said.

The courses are free and the duration is anything between six months to a year.

Those who are selected will study Computer Programming/Coding where they learn to build websites and mobile applications.

While the Brothers for All coding programme was initiated in 2014, they have been operating in the non-profit sphere under the parent charity, Mothers for All, in both Botswana and South Africa since 2008 and have managed project grants from the EU, the World Bank, Barclays Bank UK, DG Murray Trust, the MAC AIDS Fund and Hivos.

“Brothers for All is helping to break the poverty-cum-crime cycle that characterises our impoverished settlements by providing offenders, ex-offenders and vulnerable youth with aspirational technology skills,” he said.

Tshabalala said they do this by teaching people how to code, using online training platforms, supported by video tutorials and skilled mentors.

The Brothers for All coding centre in Langa started in August 2014 with 10 donated laptops, a mobile internet connection and a handful of students. By the time Lord Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, officially opened the centre in October 2014 they had over 30 students, that number grew so quickly to a total of 200.

Today they attract “keen learners” and unemployed youths from as far as Gugulethu, Nyanga and Khayelitsha.

These learners often include school leavers with good matric results but who lack financial support to further their vocational training, school leavers with poor matric results, school drop-outs, teenage mothers and ex-offenders.

“ There are no entry requirements - only the commitment to work hard.

The duration between training to employability takes between 6-12 months depending on the student’s ability and commitment.

We have opened another coding centre in Hout Bay for 20 students from Imizamo Yethu in September 2015,” he enthused.

So far, sixteen of their students have won scholarships to CodeX, an elite training academy and three have been offered internships with Nona Creative and ForeFront Development Systems.

“ We have been approached by several other technology companies and corporates who are willing to support our work by offering either internships or jobs to our graduates,” he said.

The organisation been granted permission to run a coding project in all 42 of the Western Cape’s prisons.

They had started their first project in the Worcester Correctional Centre, teaching 15 offenders, who have been drawn from both the male and female prisons.

“We also have another programme for juvenile offenders at Drakenstein Correctional Centre,” he added.

Tshabalala said by equipping offenders with high-demand coding skills they will have a greater chance of getting a job or being able to start their own business, thereby reducing their risk of re-offending.

“This is a world first with ex-offenders coming back to prison to teach offenders how to code,” he said.

While their training is free, they also run a project making recycled paper bead jewellery. To join Brother For All’s introductory course on Digital Literacy on February 1` contact Sihle on 074 375 3767 or via email on sihle@brothersforall.

Alternatively you can contact Mzi on 084 343 9290 or

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