More than 7 000 learners benefitted from the partnership between NGO Afrika Tikkun, Workonline Communications – a wholesale provider of IP transit and carrier services across Africa – and its partners.
The partnership, which was announced in August 2016 to address the slow Internet speeds had previously hampered the NGO’s development goals. Workonline provided free high-speed internet access to Afrika Tikkun’s centres, delivered over sponsored last mile connections supplied by Sonic Telecoms and BSIT.
Afrika Tikkun is focused on developing young people ‘from cradle to career’ through a support model that focuses on education, holistic development, skills development and work placement. The programs offered by Afrika Tikkun begin with Early Childhood Development (ECD) for children ages two to six. Once at school, the children attend after-school developmental programmes throughout their schooling from Grade 1 to Matric.
The programmes are aimed at developing the students physically and intellectually, with a focus on the use of technology, to develop them into innovative, active citizens and leaders. The students are essentially prepared for the world of work and developed towards a career path. Once they have matriculated, Afrika Tikkun offers a Youth Skills Development and Placement Programme that prepares them for work more intensively, and ultimately places them into entry-level opportunities.
Through the sponsorship from Workonline and its partners, the quality of programme delivery was improved at the Alexander and Mfuleni Afrika Tikkun centres, reaching 7440 beneficiaries in total. The results of this are that the matric results improved from 94% to 98% including over 64 distinctions, and the Mfuleni centre had a 100% matric pass rate for the first time in five years.
Academic results improved across the board, with Grade 11 results seeing the highest degree of improvement. A total of 1419 young people have been equipped with employable skill sets, and since the initial launch of the programme, 587 beneficiaries have been placed in learnerships, internships and entry-level jobs. Those who haven’t been placed are currently going through interviews to determine appropriate job placements.
“The sponsorship from Workonline has assisted us in improving the delivery of our service and improving the lives of individuals in all phases of their development and learning. We have been able to improve computer literacy through the use of the Internet in all the communities in which we operate, and have implemented an e-learning programme targeted at unemployed youth in all our centres, in partnership with Workonline and ABSA,” explains Onyi Nwaneri, group executive responsible for partnerships and communications for Afrika Tikkun.
“Internet access is an increasingly vital part of our everyday lives, especially in connection with education, skills development and employment. Workonline has assisted us in connecting more low income families, to ensure they are not left behind in terms of economic participation.”
Edward Lawrence, co-founder and director of business development at Workonline Communications explains, “Workonline is committed to making use of its global network to provide solutions for the less fortunate in the markets in which we operate. Seeing the impact we can have through a sponsorship such as this spurs our continuous drive for improvement and advancement.
“The partnership with Afrika Tikkun has allowed us to remain connected to the country in which we operate, and assist in its development. I am personally passionate about the Internet’s role in education and skills development, and realise the importance of connecting as many communities as possible in Africa to the Internet – especially those that are underprivileged. This is one small step towards making access to the Internet a basic human right.”
To facilitate optimal connectivity for the centres, the last mile connections needed to be upgraded. Connectivity solutions providers Sonic Telecoms and Business Services IT (BSIT) who provide the connection between Afrika Tikkun’s Alexandra and Mfuleni centres and Workonline’s network, worked hard to have the last mile connections upgraded quickly and efficiently.
“Our partners, Sonic Telecoms and Business Services IT (BSIT) were tremendous in their efforts to assist us in making this project a reality. Sonic Telecoms installed the necessary technology to have the centre connected to their extensive network, in just a few days, providing an up to 20Mbps L2 wireless connection between one of the Afrika Tikkun sites and the Workonline core network. BSIT leveraged their 15+ years of experience and extensive network to connect the previously underserviced area.”
The high-speed connection provided by Workonline and its partners has assisted 17-year-old Thabang to carry out research for school projects, gain a deeper understanding of mathematics and improve his academic results. 11-year-old Busisiwe has learned computer skills, after only being introduced to a computer when she was 10. She uses the network to do research for school projects, read up on her family’s history and even to learn more about female health and hygiene – which she was not widely educated on at home. 17-year-old Thembani is an innovator and entrepreneur, who used the internet access at the Alexandra centre to carry out research which aided in the design for noise-cancelling headphones made from recycled material – an idea that he and his friends came up with for an entrepreneurial competition last year, which they won.
“Access to the internet is a vital key to unlocking wealth in our increasingly digital world, and what Thabang, Busisiwe and Thembani show are the diverse ways in which internet access is proving increasingly empowering to disadvantaged populations in particular,” adds Nwaneri.
“Workonline is proud to have been part of the amazing results achieved at the Afrika Tikkun centres in 2016, and looks forward to more exciting opportunities in 2017. Connecting Africa to the world and the world to Africa is extremely important for economic transformation on the continent, and Workonline is fully committed to helping make this happen,” Lawrence adds.