Student works to change rural pupils’ lives

2019-05-08 06:02
The Q Section Tutoring team.

The Q Section Tutoring team.

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FOR most pupils in rural areas, computer literacy is out of reach, but a University of KwaZulu-Natal student, Bongeka Dlamini, is determined to change that, one lesson at a time.

Dlamini (23) has started an initiative to equip rural pupils with computer skills for free, through her non-profit organisation, Q Section Tutoring.

Talking about her initiative, it is evident that her passion for the children she teaches in Elandskop is the reason why she started the project.

Her modest beginnings give her insight into the struggles her pupils face every day.

The postgraduate student, who has recently qualified as a teacher, was herself educated in a rural area.

She told Weekend Witness that she had experienced first-hand the difficulties one faces if they are computer illiterate. “The biggest hurdle for me when I got to a model-C high school was using a computer. Although I was smart, being from a rural area I had never used a computer before and it was embarrassing,” she said.

Dlamini, who registered her NPO in 2017, said she had promised herself that after completing her studies she would go back to her rural community to give back.

When she started her first year at university, her vision to start computer lessons was reignited. “I realised that students from rural areas had never operated a computer before and it affected their self-esteem.”

She recalled how during the registration process, one of her peers at university broke down and cried because she had not been able to register herself online into the university’s system. “At university I realised that it doesn’t help being an A student when you don’t even know how to type your assignment and I want to change that.”

Using donated laptops, Dlamini and other post and undergraduate students, sacrifice most of their weekends to teach 36 pupils computer skills while also offering tutoring for different subjects. She said she took a student-centered approach to teaching. “This means looking at the student’s personal circumstances and tailoring the approach to suit the student,” she said. “It is not only about teaching the content but also about helping students get an understanding.” For her, the greatest compliment she receives is when pupils complete the course and thank her.

“Seeing children who go from knowing nothing in the first lesson to being able to use a computer when they leave at the end of the year … is amazing,” she said.

“It is not about teaching, but making a difference in people’s lives every day. The power of making a difference is something I have as a teacher.” Although she is currently not employed as a teacher, Dlamini said it was her calling. “Although this is a project to give back and close the gap, it is also fulfilling my calling,” she said.

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