An innovative internship programme is set to boost education in the Western Cape, as well as offer historically disadvantaged individuals skills training and employment opportunities. 

The programme, a partnership between Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, Bytes Technology Group (Bytes) and Khanya, will equip 20 interns with technical skills to maintain over 100 schools technology infrastructure systems which urgently require technical support.
The deal was brokered by the Western Cape Education Foundation – a non-profit organisation which represents the collaboration between the Department of Education and businesses.  
According to the Foundation’s Manager, Ingrid Graham, the programme was born out of the need to maintain the technology infrastructures at schools implemented by Khanya, a project of the Western Cape Department of Education. Khanya was launched in 2001 to increase the capacity of educators. The creation of technology centres at schools is one of Khanya’s interventions to close the capacity gap and empower educators to deliver the curriculum to learners.
According to Graham, Khanya has implemented technology systems into more than 700 schools in the Western Cape.
“While this is a fantastic achievement, these systems need to be maintained, and ongoing training is required for the educators,” she says.  “The government simply doesn’t have the capacity to provide technical support for all these schools, so we had to look at a different solution to enable the schools to become technically independent.”
Graham learnt about the successful internship programme at Langa High School initiated by the Bytes Technology Group (Bytes).  In 2006, Bytes invested R1-million in a state-of-the-art multimedia centre at Langa High School, and later began training a historically disadvantaged intern to maintain the technology systems at the centre.
Bytes and the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund partnered with Khanya to provide training for a further 20 interns.  Some of the interns will be from the West Coast region, and the rest from the Cape Town Metropole area.  The interns will be trained to support approximately five schools each, ultimately providing technical support for 100 schools.
The internship programme is an ISETT-Seta registered NQF level 5 system support programme, and lasts for the duration of one year.  This means that the interns will graduate with a high level of techincal as well as soft skills Khanya is encouraging schools to create governing body posts which will assist them in becoming technically independent and sustainable. This means that the entrepreneurial skills of the learners will be developed so that they can provide such technical support on a contractual basis.
According to Freddie Kleynhans, branch manager for Bytes People Solutions in Cape Town, the existence of employment opportunities is key to the success of the programme.  “We don’t want to just create skills without being able to offer employment,” he says.
Kleynhans adds that this internship programme is an extension of Bytes’ core business to build skills for their ICT sector.  “Bytes is delighted to be involved in a project that offers value to the country’s education system, whilst simultaneously offering employment opportunities for historically disadvantaged individuals.  We hope that the success of this pilot will encourage further corporate involvement to make this an annual programme with far-reaching effects.”
Anglo American South Africa’s head of public affairs, Daniel Ngwepe, comments: “Anglo American’s involvement in this project is part of a decades-long commitment to social change which sees the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund spend over R50-million a year on considered community development."