Limited access to digital technology and a lack of training in digital literacy are barriers to bridging the digital divide for South African youth and enhancing educational outcomes in the country. For example, almost 70% South African youth between the ages of five and 24 years do not have access to laptop or computer at home, according to Statistics South Africa.

To help overcome these challenges, Rectron has donated information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, valued at over R200 000, to three schools in South Africa.

“With Rectron’s technological capabilities, it is our responsibility to positively impact education within South African. With the way our world is changing and how we operate, it is essential that our children become empowered through digital learning and prepared for a digital future,” says Kutlwano Rawana, chief of people at Rectron South Africa.

Rectron has selected the Boipelo Secondary School in Kagiso, Gauteng, as the third partner in its CSI programme, named Progressive Educational Upliftment or PEU. Meaning ‘seed’ in Setswana, PEU aims to plant the seed of education within South Africa’s youth, empowering their futures through digital literacy.

Through this new initiative, ICT equipment and state-of-the-art Technolabs have also been donated to Tshelenkosi Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal, and The Koot Niemann Primary School in the Free State earlier this year. Branch managers within these provinces visited the participating schools and identified which ICT equipment and solutions would lead to the biggest impact on learners.

In partnership with the Department of Education, the handover to Boipelo Secondary School took place on 5 May, with the school principal Thabo Modise, district director of Gauteng West Oupa Koapeng, and Spencer Chen, CEO of Rectron, among guests in attendance.

The ICT donation, worth more than R200 000, will be used to convert existing classrooms into a state-of-the-art Technolab equipped with digital tools needed to support educational outcomes and promote digital literacy.

Speaking at the event, Modise sais: “This is a very important donation for our school. We will have a fully-fledged computer centre, where we can teach our children how to use computers and get them ready for the world of work. We have something to showcase that says, ‘We are the school of the future’ and will be chosen by locals as a school of choice.”

Education is one of the most important aspects of the overall economic, cultural, social and technical development of a country. However, low academic performance in mathematics and science puts South Africa on the backfoot of 4IR readiness. In the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which is carried out every four years, South African learners performed the worst in mathematics and science among the 64 countries assessed.

ICT equipment and technology is an enabler of education and can promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. Through PEU, Rectron is providing these essential tools to those who need them most, while engaging and working with communities in which it operates.

“We have renamed and refocused our CSI initiative to better reflect the intention behind the programme and to ensure that all Rectron employees and staff were included within the process. We wanted all employees to be a part of selecting the new name, objective and purpose behind the PEU initiative,” says Rawana.

Rectron plans to build a long-term partnership with the schools in the PEU programme, providing additional support in the future.

“Through PEU, we want our branches to take a hands-on approach, monitoring the success of our ICT donation and looking for additional ways we can make a positive impact on these schools and surrounding communities,” says Rawana.

Rectron also hopes to introduce additional bursary opportunities for grade 12 learners, as well as invite students to join its Skills Development Programme.

“South Africa’s youth are key to transforming our economy, boosting growth and fostering creativity and innovation. Given that technology is transforming jobs, industries and entire economies, it is essential to digitally empower our youth,” concludes Rawana.