A Community and School in Witbank Goes Online

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Witbank Primêre Skool gets an ICT Lab!

A hidden gem, called Witbank, lies in a farm area, 140 Kilometres away from Poffader, in the Northern Cape Province. The small community of Witbank consists of approximately 500 people and has been in existence for 112 years! Though the community has been in existence for such a long time, there have been limited work and learning opportunities in the community.

At the heart of the community lies Witbank Primêre Skool, a multigrade farm school that caters to Grade 1 to Grade 6 learners. The school was established in 2002, as a school for Grade 1 – 3 learners. The school has grown over the years and has expanded to cater to Grade 6 learners and is looking to also include Grade 7 learners. Currently, Grade 7 learners study in the nearest town, which is Pela and/or Poffader so that they can complete their schooling in Primary and Secondary Schools. For many in the community, this is a costly exercise as it requires learners to travel a long distance daily to school or to complete their studies in Boarding schools. Cell phone coverage is not available and Community members need to travel to the nearest town to make or receive calls unless fixed-line phones are available, which is limited due to the cost.

SchoolNet South Africa was requested by Biotherm Renewable Energy to refurbish one of the Witbank Primêre School’s classrooms and convert it into an ICT lab with Internet Connectivity. It is intended that the project will provide external links for the community to communicate more freely with other communities and find resources. Through this project, both teachers and the Community of Witbank will get the opportunity to be exposed to learning through the use of digital technologies and to actively engage in a range of training, support, and development in digital literacy, entrepreneurship, and awareness of Open Education Resources

Local community members in Witbank have the opportunity to develop their community and the only way they can get this right is through further development and training in various fields and exposure to what other small communities are doing in order to thrive and make a success of their community. Through the training interventions, community members who are seeking employment beyond their local community will be exposed to job opportunities in the towns closest to them.

The school staff will be able to search for teaching resources and expose learners to different ways of learning using digital resources and different teaching methods.
The Witbank Primêre School Principal, Mrs. Gaylian Fortuin said: ‘Our children benefit a greatly from the donated computer lab. Before I had only a landline phone, so I had no connection to the outside world. Thanks to the new internet connection, we are always online and enjoying the reading and math programs available to kids-they are enjoying it a lot!”

The world that once seemed too far to reach in the community is now much closer and the community is seeing a world of possibilities.

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