• Seven Tembisa Schools Go Digital

    Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will participate in the launch of the Gauteng paperless education system at seven schools in Tembisa on Gauteng's East Rand on Wednesday, 14 January 2015.

    Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, says the deputy president will be joined by among others the minister for basic education, Angie Motshekga, and the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura.

    The launch of the pilot project, ‘the Big Switch On’, takes place within the backdrop of the opening of inland schools for the 2015 academic year.

    To read the article titled, “Tembisa township sees seven schools go digital,” click here.

    SABC News
  • Universal Internet With Free Wi-Fi for WC

    The Western Cape provincial government intends to offer universal access to the internet to all its residents as it drives public access Wi-Fi.
    MEC for Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, Alan Winde, points out that, "By 2030 all households in high, medium and low priority wards should have access to the internet by means of various technologies such as public WiFi access, and/or mobile network connectivity."
    The province has already begun launching public access Wi-Fi hotspots in the province, beginning in George and in Atlantis, however, users will be capped.
    To read the article titled, “Western Cape eyes universal Internet with free Wi-Fi,” click here.

    Fin 24
  • Call for Civil Society to Claim Back Power

    The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) has urged civil society organisations to claim back its power, during the National NPO Summit on Service Delivery.

    Speaking during the summit, SANGONeT Board chairperson, Tebogo Makgatho, used the theme ‘Making Service Delivery Work for the People’, to remind delegates that civil society should always put communities first in their activities.

    In addition, she urged NGOs represented to take advantage of the information and communication technology services offered by SANGONeT.

    For more about the National NPO Summit on Service Delivery, refer to www.ngopulse.org/blogs/npos-democracy-and-service-delivery.

  • Innovators Scoop UN Tech Awards

    Eight young innovators from developing countries will showcase their award-winning digital solutions to development challenges at an event run by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union.
    The winners of the Young Innovators Competition will present their projects to the audience of the International Telecommunication Union Telecom World 2013, a networking and knowledge-sharing event, which starts tomorrow in Bangkok, Thailand.
    Besides competing for two awards, one up to US$5 000 for ‘great concepts’ and another one worth up to US$10 000 for ‘innovative start-ups’, the winners will take part in a programme designed to assist their projects through one-to-one sessions with start-up mentors and business experts, hands-on workshop training and peer mentoring from the winners of the 2012 competition.
    To read the article titled, “Developing world innovators scoop UN Tech Awards,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Mindset Network: Media Manager

    Mindset Network
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Wednesday, May 15, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Mindset Network is a nonprofit organisation that aims at personal, social and economic development of all people in Africa. Mindset uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support education in the schooling and health sectors.

    Mindset Network seeks to appoint a Media Manager, based in Johannesburg.

    The person will manage and maintain the all the media within the Mindset Group.

    • Manage Entermedia DAMS;
    • Manage processes for media into and out of DAMS;
    • Interact with content owners and creators to ensure all media assets are correct and usable;
    • Interact with website team to ensure media is available on websites;
    • Interact with YouTube to ensure media is available on YouTube.
    • Linux Bash and Windows Shell Scripting;
    • PHP, HTML and ASP;
    • Visual Basic;
    • MySQL and MsSQL Queries;
    • Java;
    • Perl.
    Media management
    • Upload of media to Youtube;
    • Update media/metadata on websites;
    • Manageme/maintenance of offline exports and applications;
    • Manage of all encoding processes;
    • Metadata management;
    • Maintenance of metadata fields;
    • Design management/enforcement of metadata standards;
    • Quality control.
    • Matric;
    • Minimum of three years in a similar role;
    • Proficiency in Microsoft office applications (word, excel, power point, outlook);
    • Knowledge and understanding of all systems;
    • Knowledge of Linux;
    • Knowledge of Apache;
    • Knowledge of MySQL;
    • Knowledge of PHP;
    • Knowledge of JAVA;
    • Previous experience working with DAMS an advantage.
    To apply, submit a CV and motivation letter to recruitment@mindset.co.za.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

    For more about Mindset Network, refer to www.mindset.co.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.


    Want to reach the widest spectrum of NGO and development stakeholders in South Africa as part of your communication and outreach objectives? Learn more about how the NGO Pulse Premium Advertising Service can support your communication requirements. Visit http://goo.gl/MUCvL for more information.

  • Technology in Classrooms: Aiding Learning Barriers or a Barrier to Learning?

    There are no reliable studies or statistics in South Africa on how many learners are struggling with the learning of school content. Conclusive and reliable evidence on how many learners have been ‘under-educated’ is scarce, versus those that have a certifiable barrier to learning. However, global evidence indicates that there are many barriers which inhibit effective learning.

    There is a consensus that low literacy and numeracy scores are good baseline indicators of learning problems. Low literacy or numeracy achievement can be due to poor classroom teaching methods, nutrition challenges, genetic influences, gross motor problems or behavioural elements such as low concentration, attention deficits and so forth. It is in this context that we critically examine the question: “Can Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in schools assist those with learning barriers or can it become another major barrier to learning?”

    For the purpose of this argument, the term ‘ICT’ will be used as an umbrella description and therefore refers to the use of technology in terms of computers, video-conferencing, tele-conferencing and interactive classroom biometrics, etc. Many school classroom technology offerings often have amazing functionalities and features that dazzle and even boggle the mind. It is evident however, that many of these ICT innovations in South African classrooms today are not always geared towards learners who have learning barriers. One of numerous examples would relate to the amount of learners, who, due to physical under-development and poor occupational stimulation, find computer keyboards a nightmare. The small-sized keys and letters make keyboard mastery a great challenge. Many of these learners are therefore not motivated to use ICT instruments, resulting in growing low self-esteem, which ultimately impacts on those already struggling with a learning disorder.

    While a gross motor problem, as in the keyboard example, is often an identifiable problem, some of the more nuanced and unseen challenges with ICT relates to balance and posture where the position of the keyboard in relation to seating is a major factor in content mastery. Additional factors such as clumsiness and poor muscle tone impact on finger movement and mouse control and impede work completion and task motivation. Computers that are placed in poorly lit areas, with either too bright or dimly-lit backgrounds, allows for uncontrollable screen glare and may lead to headaches, tension and anxiety during the task. Social and emotional problems also ensue from those who have sensory problems and dislike touch. An educator not trained in dealing with learning barriers tends to label such learners. They are often seen as ‘unmotivated’ or ‘lazy’. Or take the case of an epileptic learner. Some epileptic learners react to flickering screens as these often stimulate the reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain leading to unpleasant consequences.
    Furthermore, problems with concepts, numbers and shapes, visual perceptual problems, auditory perception problems and so forth are also some of the many challenges that have to be considered in terms of ICT in classrooms today. On the other hand, many educators and learning barriers experts agree that the use of ICT have benefits that outweigh the risks if used correctly. There seems to be consensus that the key to making effective use of ICT in the classroom, is an educator who is trained in dealing with learning barriers. In order to achieve this milestone in South African education, massive re-engineering is required. The very foundation upon which many educators have been skilled and certified i.e. chalk and talk, needs to be updated. In Gauteng for example, the Department of Education has been trying to revive and re-structure the Gauteng Online initiative through the supply of computer tablets. Lying ahead, of course, is the huge task of skilling educators in using the technology effectively. At this point, for example, relevant content has to be sourced and adapted to the classroom while didactic approaches will also need to accommodate learners with a range of barriers such as dyslexics, those with eye-sight challenges, hand-eye coordination problems, etc. Some schools in South Africa, use ICT in the form of assistive technologies to address various learning barriers. These technologies help overcome learning challenges. Among the technologies available are screen colour overlays for photosensitive learners, screen readers for deficient readers or blind learners, screen print magnifiers as well as making use of barrier specific keyboards to name but a few.
    It is therefore advisable that educators be well-trained in using ICT in classrooms with an emphasis on assessing learners in foundational concepts such as numeracy, literacy, study skills, study trends, keyboard efficiency and related areas. On a more encouraging note, it is hopeful to see that many schools, even those in the lower quintiles and FET Colleges in Gauteng are starting to use ICT for numeracy and literacy assessments. They are also using computers for performance benchmarking, placements and student support. 
    In the process of assessing they are collecting valuable data on student barriers as well and are adapting their support strategies accordingly. The use of ICT in a responsible manner and in trained hands will therefore stimulate an information revolution conducive for learning innovation and in line with the creative demands of a 21st century learning environment.   

    For more information, click here.

    - Gerald Williamson (email: gerald@shapingthelearner.com) is a clinical psychologist and an educationist active in education research, training and development. Refer to www.shapingthelearner.com for his contact details. 
    Gerald Williamson
  • Launch of the Tipfuxeni Project, 23 September 2014

    The South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), in partnership with the Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT), launched the Tipfuxeni Project, on 23 September 2014 in Johannesburg.

    Tipfuxeni, is a two-year online capacity building project aimed at South African non-governmental organisations (NGOs). One of the components of the Tipfuxeni Project is an interactive web platform, which provides NGOs, especially those that have not benefited from any information and communication technology (ICT) projects before, the opportunity to take advantage of ICTs and raise awareness about their work, share best practices and access information on NGO opportunities, among others.

    Speaking during the Tipfuxeni launch, deputy minister of monitoring and evaluation in the presidency, Buti Manamela, described South Africa as a better place due to NGOs such as SANGOCO and SANGONeT whose mission over the decades, and in the outcome of Tipfuxeni, has been in cultivating active and vocal citizenry by being participants in their own development. Manamela states that, “The Tipfuxeni Project recognises that ICTs have a critical role to play in ensuring that NPOs [nonprofit organisations] embrace the vision outlined in the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030. The project is founded on the belief that access to ICT plays a crucial role in creating conditions for meaningful participation of people in society.  The profound meaning of the Xitsonga word Tipfuxeni, which means Do It For Yourself, is a critical underpinning of our national call to action, Together We Move South Africa Forward.”

    He adds that, government is deeply committed to working with NGOs to combat concerns of poverty, unemployment and inequality which continue to haunt society 20 years into democracy.

    To view the full speeches delivered at the launch refer to:

    SANGOCO and SANGONeT would like to thank all civil society organisations and all stakeholders involved for supporting the launch of the Tipfuxeni portal.

    We encourage you to continue engaging the sector on issues relating to NGO fundraising in South Africa through the Tipfuxeni portal, www.tipfuxeni.org.za, Twitter: @Tipfuxeni_Tipx and Facebook: Tipfuxeni Portal.


  • CSR as a Possible Answer to Our Education Challenges

    As the annual debate of whether or not the pass rate should be lifted rages on, we are yet again faced with the reality that history will question whether or not we collectively did enough to adequately prepare this generation of learners.

    Education certainly remains an effective tool to a self-sustainable country which is able to lessen and possibly eradicate the inequality gap on many levels. So if this is obvious to most then we need to widen the focus of whose responsibility it is to address the quality of education in South Africa? Traditionally the focus at this time of the year is always on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) but the focus needs to be wider. We need to consider whether or not corporates and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are doing enough to strengthen the education sector. 

    While we acknowledge that DBE has many ‘challenges’ to address, we must also acknowledge the fact that the corporate sectors support of this sector is not only complex it is also very challenging. We commend those companies that have been undeterred by possible complexities.  Companies such as Dimension Data and Vodacom among others are well known for using information and communication technology (ICT) to assist in the fight against illiteracy and ultimately poverty.

    For ICT companies the link is obvious as they can be a powerful conduit for the transfer and spread of information to all parts of the country. This is extremely important when you consider that there are still many parts of the country that are largely removed due to the absence of basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity. Learners in rural communities are certainly the most vulnerable due to the absence of these amenities. So for ICT companies that are already playing an active role in these communities, they are creating the only access for young learners to keep abreast of the development opportunities that their urban counterparts are exposed to. It is pivotal to provide rural schools in particular with access to information so that learners are not left too far behind.

    As stated above it is encouraging to see companies taking an active role in addressing some of these concerns. The companies mentioned above in particular donate computers to schools and access to the Internet. But for those communities where there is no electricity this presents serious challenges. Nevertheless, their intervention remains invaluable as it lessens the gap between urban and rural learners.

    As the language debate also attaches itself to the pass rate debate, technology could be seen as a means to remotely provide teaching software in different languages to assist learners. Technology could also help ensure the timeous delivery of learning material so as to once and for all quash the annual textbook delivery debacle.

    It is a given that it is not enough to merely provide schools with up-to-date technology, there must be well trained teachers aux fair with it. ICT companies can assist educational institutions in providing learners with access to online textbooks and other learning resources.

    As changes are being made to improve the education sector, those involved should not lose sight of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and in particular those goals that address the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the achievement of universal primary education, the promotion of gender equality and empower women and other related goals that can be indirectly addressed through education.

    With respect to the goal related to improvements in primary education in particular there is a global recognition of education as a basic human right and achievable developmental goal.  For corporates it makes business sense to play an active role in addressing education woes. Corporates will certainly appreciate the fact that one of the important conditions for their success is a stable social environment. If corporates are responsible for being the driving force behind creating an open market and free trade, education should not be seen as an exception. By playing such an active role corporates can assist their brand building efforts. They can choose to use their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to support a number of initiatives beyond what many may regard as mere ‘cause marketing.’

    Regardless of which corporates and NGOs avail themselves to assist, DBE will still need to take the lead in integrating all pledged resources. DBE will need to leverage the offer of up-to-date technology and human resources that will assist in optimising the education system. 

    In conclusion there is arguably a low level of corporate involvement beyond the initiatives described above and beyond once of donations. As corporates make their new year’s resolutions, let us hope top of the list will be efforts to move CSR beyond once off donations. Corporates should not be deterred by the argument that it is difficult to measure social impact in a way that their investors would appreciate. Corporates should rise to the challenge and look to ensure that their CSR implementation and reporting reflects visible and significant outcomes.

    - Janine Mosetlhi is managing director of Dara Consulting (PTY) LTD. 
    Janine Mosetlhi
  • Charity: Water is Creating Brand Love - Five Ways That Your NGO Can Follow Suit

    There is a certain stigma around nonprofit organisations (NPOs). In the minds of many, charities are associated with poorly developed brand using amateur attempts at social media to ask for more money. Yet these NPOs are doing excellent and vital work across the globe and rely on public funding to do so. The problem comes in with communication. Too many organisations take good communication for granted and therefore fail to communicate their vision, needs and successes. In order to support your vision, potential (and current) donors need to understand what it is you do, why they should care and how they can help.

    Charity: Water is one organisation that has taken communication seriously. Instead of just getting on with the work (which they are very effective at doing), they put ordinary people at the centre of everything. They place a simple call to action on citizens of the world and receive overwhelming support in response. So much so that since it was established in 2006, Charity: Water has raised over US$40 million, ensuring that 3 400 000 people can access clean water in developing countries.

    As a case study, Charity: Water has done plenty right. Two key aspects are their transparency and their storytelling techniques. Using quality videos and digital media, they engage with ordinary people where they are. They have a clear message and they communicate it in a way that makes people want to click on the next two-minute snippet to learn more about the work they do. Their videos show the remote places they work at and quantify the exact impact that providing clean water makes on communities and individuals in developing countries. They are at an advantage in that their running costs are sponsored by corporates. This assures donors that every cent raised is sent directly to the region it was raised for. Through good communication, Charity: Water has made the work they do real to people thousands of miles away, and has created a positive association with their brand. In other words, they have made their brand loveable.

    By doing so, they have put the onus of fundraising on everyone. Those who view their promos and engage with them online are left with a clear understanding of their work, and no excuse for not getting involved. Charity: Water provides people with a clear and simple call to action while also inspiring them to make a difference.

    By setting a standard of excellence, both with their transparency and their communications, Charity: Water is developing a new model of engaging people that other organisations could learn from. Their transparency clearly shows what the power of proof can do for an organisation, their simple messaging and dedicated storytelling makes Charity: Water as personal and relevant as possible. Here are five ways your charity can follow suit:

    Be Transparent

    Clearly communicate where the money goes. Being able to say that it takes X amount of money to fund Y motivates people to raise at least X (if not 2X or 3X). Put another way, honest and quantifiable targets give people something solid to aspire to when it comes to raising money for your organisation.

    Be engaging

    If they are to reach new audiences, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) desperately need to stop relying on the same old communication techniques. Sustainable funding requires a growing donor base and today’s potential donor looks very different from that of a decade ago. E-mail newsletters, wordy websites and annual reports no longer cut it. While existing donors may appreciate these, potential donors need to be enticed and such enticement needs to be short and snappy. Social media and online video sharing, when done right, ticks all the boxes with the added advantage of giving a human face to your organisation with the potential of viral sharing.

    Have a clear ask

    Depending on the complexity of your organisation, you may have various asks, but make sure that for every piece of communication, there is at least one that clearly comes to the fore, so that people always know what it is they can do to help you. One way of getting this right is by targeting specific communications to specific audiences (along with the audience-appropriate ask), rather than trying to make each message cover all angles, audiences and asks.

    Invite everyone’s involvement

    Once a person contributes to a cause (even if that contribution is a small one and even if it is not a financial contribution) they are invested. Give people ways to get involved. I know of a charity that has a wall which they literally set aside for when donor corporates want to bring their staff along to contribute. The same wall gets painted every time. Ridiculous perhaps, but they are applying the principle that if there is nothing that needs doing, create something because once you have contributed, you are personally invested.


    Tell your success stories and keep it personal. People do not want facts and figures, they want faces and families. They want the real life stories. They also want personalised thank yous - technology has left us with no excuse in this regard. Use your new communications to complement your old ones and harness both to champion your champions (everyone loves a story about little Susie who raised R100 through her lemonade stand to save the rhino).

    The bottom line is: clear, engaging, compelling communications requires an investment of time and resources, but done right, it will launch your charity to a new level where your donors are your greatest advocates.

    - Carolyn Cramer heads up ‘Coz it Counts’, a boutique PR agency focused on telling the stories of South Africa’s NGOs. coz it counts clients include Afrika Tikkun, World Wildlife Fund, and Relate Bracelets. Visit www.cozitcounts.co.za for more.


    Carolyn Cramer
  • Africa Leads Cellular Health Technology Revolution

    Necessity is the mother of invention - and in Africa, where high levels of disease threaten to engulf the continent - the medical profession is having to get creative.

    According to Dr Sam Surka, researcher from the Chronic Disease Initiative for Africa (CDIA), a case in point is the recent advances in cellphone technology and Mobile Health, or M-health, which are showing that an answer to Africa’s medical health needs may come from this most unlikely of sources.

    Africa has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world, and an increasing incidence of chronic and non-communicable disease and the associated risk factors. Poor living conditions, over-populated living areas, lack of education and inaccessibility to medical information make this situation incredibly hard to manage. Africa carries more than 24 percent of the global burden of disease but has an average of only two doctors per 10 000 people.

    “Healthcare has always been a huge concern in Africa, especially when doctors and hospitals are far from isolated or remote areas where care is often most needed: M-health is potentially the answer to this,” says Surka.

    The M-health applications already available offer a wide range of services across the medical spectrum, contributing to a variety of responses to medical needs and conditions, in many cases opening new areas of preventative action previously impossible. Surka is currently working on a first-time project for the CDIA to develop a mobile phone application that calculates a total cardiovascular disease risk score and to investigate how this impacts on screening for cardiovascular disease by community health workers.

    “While much has been made of the mobile revolution in North America and its impact on the health sector, M-health is even more important in developing countries where phones are sometimes the only way for people to share and receive information. Through M-health projects, we at the CDIA hope to contribute to bringing its potential to light,” says Surka.

    Mobile penetration in Africa is at 65 percent, the second biggest mobile market in the world, with half of all Internet connections in Africa exclusively on mobile technology. South Africa has the second highest smartphone penetration on the continent at 19 percent, after Egypt at 37 percent.

    This accessibility means big things for healthcare - cellphones enable education that is more effective and targeted. “M-health is very much a needs-based innovation. While first world countries are leading in the medical technological sphere, there is certainly a gap between international thinking and what is actually needed on the receiving end. M-health gives us the ability to ensure we’re addressing actual needs,” says Surka.

    This is done primarily through the collection of data: the most important feature of mobile phone medical applications is that they are patient-focused; the patient is the one engaging. And through the data that the patient supplies, it is possible to see what areas are most in need of support, and for healthcare providers to respond accordingly.

    “Importantly, mobile health offers a necessary change to the status quo - for too long the medical sector has been at efforts to switch from doctor centric to patient-focused care. For the last 50 years, this has been happening and the advent of cellphone tech [technology] allows this to an even greater degree,” says Surka.

    Some good examples of M-Health include: TxtAlert - a mobile tool that sends unique automated SMS reminders to patients on chronic medication - reminding them to take their medication or perform other necessary tasks. A special tool, called ‘Please Call Me’ allows patients to call their doctors even if they do not have any airtime available by ‘pinging’ their doctor who then calls back.

    Young Africa Live is a digital forum where African youths can share stories and get information about HIV and AIDS. It also has helpful numbers and contact details for HIV/AIDS-related organisations, in an effort to de-stigmatise the diseases while also providing clear facts and support groups for African youths.

    hiVIVA is an application in early development stages, enabling users to stay motivated and on top of HIV medication adherence, through a smartphone application built on the MIT Media Lab’s online ‘CollaboRythm’ platform. Along with personalised real-time adherence support and reinforcement, users access instant lab results, just-in-time information about HIV, and smartphone-based communication with their provider and support group. One of the developers on this project, Dr Lindi van Niekerk, researcher at the CDIA and the Bertha Centre for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, says that applications such as these represent the groundbreaking potential of M-health.

    “Most of these have never been tried before, through any technology - the ‘reminder’ technology alone could make a significant contribution to combating health issues in Africa. Theoretically, the potential benefit of M-health is enormous,” she says.

    “However many of the M-health possibilities still need to be tested, with many organisations now moving into research to enable policy makers to make the decisions needed for M-health to reach its next step. Fortunately”, says Surka, “That gap between funders and researchers is narrowing.”

    “In Africa in particular, because of the need; we are actually leading in the development of M-health globally. The South African government especially is encouraging M-health development, and putting its money where its mouth is,” he says.

    Surka says that we are entering a world where an increasing number of previously marginalised people have access to a mobile phone – a new state of affairs that has brought with it rapid technology development: importantly, powerful, relatively cheap technology that could provide immense relief to the crippling burden of disease on the continent.

    “The sky is the limit. We are seeing new technologies available every day, and as more health technicians, service providers, and developers start to roll out M-health initiatives, we will see M-health applications become an integral part of life in Africa, and then we will really start to see a positive change to the health of the continent.”

    - Jane Notten is the director at Rothko. For more information contact Zenahrea Damon at zenahrea@rothko.co.za or call 021 448 9465.
    Jane Notten
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