Over 10,000 students have benefited from access to computers and education thanks to the work of the SITA Air Transport Community Foundation. Established in 2014, the creation of the Foundation was driven by the SITA Council who wanted to contribute to projects that would benefit the broader community beyond aviation. During 2015 their plans were realized with the roll-out of three new initiatives focused on IT and education in Africa.
Working with the charity Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), a project based in Uganda, received a grant from the Foundation that has enabled seven new computer labs to be built at secondary schools. It also funded brand new equipment for students and teachers. In addition, solar power has been implemented into two of the schools. The schools are already benefiting from access to technology with student learning improvements underway, while teachers are gaining new skills through training assistance.
The availability of access to computers is a challenge in the region of Amhara, in Ethiopia, where communities often struggle to maintain a regular power supply. However, 25 schools are now able to use newly equipped computer labs that are giving children and teachers alike the opportunity to learn computing skills. The primary school students are getting familiar with the technology, while teachers are able to use the computers to better plan school timetables, classes and reporting. Ongoing support from the charity partner ComputerAid International and local staff from the Amhara Development Agency means that the schools will continue to have support and training.
The Foundation is also supporting students in South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand studying in the IT, engineering and aeronautical schools. To date, eight students are receiving grants to assist their education, with seven postgraduates and one undergraduate. In addition, 16 funded student memberships to the new Tschimologong Precinct in Johannesburg (due to open early 2016) will give access to young people to help develop knowledge, gain technology experience and build essential skills.
The Foundation aims to help build skills capability in the next generations of young people in Africa. In a continent that is growing economically and has huge potential, the SITA Council recognized the need to create access and opportunities in IT. By selecting programs that look at three levels of education, it is building a sustainable approach to learning and broadening the horizons of students who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
During 2016, the Foundation’s work will continue with additional teaching resources such as projectors, screens, e-learning capsules and headphones for the schools currently in the program in Ethiopia. Four more computer suites are to be built and equipped with IT, internet access and solar power in Uganda. Further student funding will be available in South Africa for both graduate and precinct students. A new initiative for the year will see women students in Zimbabwe receive dedicated computer facilities and skills training at their university to enable safe and secure access to computing.