Archive for the ‘community coordinator’ tag
We proudly announce that Grocott’s Online Mail published an article about the work of a community coordinator at the VSA: a day in the life of Terri-Lynn Penney “Bringing computer literacy to the community, one click at a time”.
Terri-Lynn Penney is one of our trustees and a facilitator for the awarenet learning network. She trains learners and teachers in Grahamstown how to use the network. Grocott’s describes very vividly her day-to-day activities, read for yourself!
If you would like to participate in this programme as a user or coordinator of the learning network awarenet, please contact us. We are currently expanding the network to overseas and are always happy about feedback and new ideas to enhance the usability of awarenet.
The beginning of the year was very difficult for the governmental schools in the Eastern Cape. Again, the temporary teachers’ posts were unassured and SADTU decided that all teachers had to go ‘Go Slow’. In the end – as usual – mainly the learners suffered from all the regulations and protests. At many schools, days ended early on a regular basis and additional teacher meetings reduced classes even further. Learners started worrying that they would miss too much to make it trough exams once again.
Also the VSA had great difficulties to work at the schools as usual since we are dependent on the teachers and principals to open up computer labs for us and inform us about time changes. Many awareNet sessions were cancelled. But we also had some very good conversations with teachers and principals and listened carefully to their problems and needs. In the end, we understood the situation much better and were able to work around it.
On the contrary, learners who participate in any of our awareNet workshops seem to enjoy the practical and challenging work a lot and excitedly talk about it to their peers. As a result, more and more learners approach us independently to ask for additional awareNet sessions in the afternoons when regular school has ended. We were able to accommodate them and principals and teachers agreed to keep the computer labs open for longer – a great achievement!
Also the teachers are more and more aware of the possibilities that come with integrating awareNet into their classes. We appointed two new awareNet teachers at Mary Waters HS and CM Vellem HPS who are now able to teach awareNet independently from the VSA – another step forward in awareNet’s sustainability.
awareNet is the social network with unlimited possibilities. A group of learners has just started another great project, and they are incredibly motivated and enthusiastic. Under the friendly and professional guidance from Terri-Lynn Penney, our new community coordinator, a group of girls combines computer literacy training with running&fitness. How does that work?
The grade 9 group from Nombulelo SS in Grahamstown alternately meets to train physically and in the computer lab of their school. They use awareNet to write down their experiences after the first exercises or to draft out their personal goals for this project. Their can follow Terri’s blog about her running experiences and start their own blog. They can upload the photographs that were taken during the physical sessions and use them as their profile pictures and much more. At the same time, Terri uses awareNet to document her exercise program in a project, so that it becomes a teaching resource for other teachers. Learners can comment on it and add their own sestions, too.
The learners and awareNet users are so excited that they keep asking for more and more sessions per week, while many learners from other schools have basically stopped their awareNet sessions for this year – understandable as they are all writing exams. We have never met such a committed group before, and we are very proud of them and their coach! Their short term goal is to complete a 5km fun run early next year, their long term goals grow as they keep using awareNet, e.g. Silindokuhle Mtwa writes: “I want to achieve something in life!”.
The runners are sponsored by the Oak Cottage Quick Spar in Grahamstown (food donatons) and a number of private persons who donated running shoes (Samantha Ferreira, Farwa Mentoor, Natalie Ross, Pierre Jacobs, Marian Penney, Cathy Meiklejohn and others). Thank you very much for your community engagement!
I was born in a little town called Alice on the 31 March 1977. My school career was completed in Fort Beaufort were I matriculated in 1995. At the end of 1995 my whole family moved to Grahamstown and I have been in Grahamstown ever since. I’m the youngest of four children and have three older brothers. My dad is a retired policeman and my mom is no longer with us. She past away in 2001. I met my husband in 2001 on the road while out running. Our friendship grew strongly and into a marriage proposal. We got married in 2003 and we’ve been happily married ever since. I never had the opportunity to study after school due to financial difficulties. In my late 20s I did part time Computer Studies and also then completed a course in Sport Physiology.
My passion from a young age has always been to work with people, especially young people of all ages. I call myself a people’s person and have always been passionate working with people. The reason why I decided to become a Community Coordinator Assistant for the VSA was simply because I love working with people and assisting them where I can and give back to them as well. There is such a need out there to make a difference in people’s lives: to give them the opportunity they never really had, to learn and educate them about things in and around life, to teach them different skills, to uplift them in ways they never been uplifted. I am looking forward to this new venture and opportunity of becoming a VSA Mentor. I know, this is what I’m meant to do with my life and future ahead.
awareNet is aiming for something bigger this year. The Village Scribe Association decided that either awareNet will become more famous and used by more learners pretty soon, or it’s not worth investing into it anymore. So, we hope that this will become a great success story…!
It all started with the rather unpleasant and surprising news that Thozi Ngeju, our community coordinator, decided that he will rather work for Rhodes University now than for us. That means that Anna Wertlen is now the new temporary community coordinator and manager of the current music project on awareNet, which involves the production of a professional awareNet theme song which will be made public on Peace Day (21/09). The trick is that 6 awareNet schools are involved and the whole progress is being documented on awareNet as an educational resource. We found absolutely amazing partners:
- Gabriel Spilkin who produced the instrumental version of the song
- Corinne Cooper and her Sonic Art Studio in conjunction with the Inyaniso HipHop band who train the kids to rhyme, rap, sing and perform on stage with the promise to record them afterwards
- Richard Strickland from eKhaya ICT who constantly adapts the software to our needs
- Jeremy Gilley from Peace One Day who promised to screen a 2 min video clip of our project at his own music event on Peace Day in the O2 Arena in London, UK
- Akua Afram from Aries Music, UK, who promised to find a patron for our project.
- Jayne Morgan from Radio Grahamstown Y4Y who promised to broadcast a show on our project on the 22/08/11
At the moment, we are negotiating with the Makana Municipality how they are going to support us, eg. by sponsoring Noluthando Hall for the battle of songs on stage and some finance for the recording. We further try to persuade the Sakhuluntu Cultural Group to do a Chalk4Peace picture on Peace Day next to Noluthando Hall. And most of all, we are practising with the learners every day. They are fantastic and surprise us every single time. They show everyone that they are keen to learn something and can commit to a project. Watch them on YouTube!
Every year I work as a theatre technician at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. This year my venue was Commemoration (Commem) Church and because this is a church productions that were performed there had to have a celestial feel about them. There were orchestras, jazz bands, marimba groups; and then there were two prison groups – and both performed free shows.
One group is from eXesi (Middledrift) and the other is local. The group from eXesi did two performances outside just below the church stairs. They were doing quasi-traditional dance to maskanda music which they apparently recorded. I fell in the habit of trying to figure out what each could be in for. Their leader seemed like a wealthy man and he joked with the prison warders a lot. I figured that he should be a loan shark or a drug dealer. There was one fellow who did not seem mentally stable – the type who could rape a five year old child. He kept saying: “Only God knows’, and when I asked what he meant by that he only stared blankly into my eyes and I almost froze.
The group from the Grahamstown prison performed in and outside. Inside because they were doing drama and outside for marimba and gospel music. One time outside while they were singing a song entitled ‘Kwanele’ meaning ‘enough’ a man came running with a plastic bag in his hands but was caught by two other men who were about to stab him when the police arrived and rescued him by arresting him.
Another time after their performance inside a boy of about nine demanded to be let through backstage. However I tried to convince him that he was not allowed to, he kept asking who I was to tell him that. Eventually the man he wanted to see came out. When I told him about the trouble the boy was giving me he looked depressed.
He later confessed that he had a reputation for being good with the knife, so much that family members had become errogant knowing he would fight their battles for them – and that’s what has kept him in the world of crime for so long. The nine year old was his sister’s child and he had already started using a pen as a knife at school.
Shame! some of these fellows did look rehabilitated. The only pity is that they will come out of prison with some unfortunate scars. In one of their drama pieces they confessed to being used as women in prison. This means that they are being raped by other men.
When you come across some of these things, you wonder what could I do to help better the cituation. If the Village Scribe Association could get permission to record and publish some of their plays (short but good plays), marimmba playing or their dancing online, maybe it would help make their plight noticed by more people who could contribute jobs for these guys when they come out.
The eLearning Africa Conference Photo Competition asked for pictures with the theme Capture this! How ICTs are empowering people across Africa. The VSA submitted 5 pictures including descriptions.
The photo with my favourite description was shortlisted for the Jury Vote! Congratulations to Thozi Ngeju who was supervising the HIV project that is described in the photo and to Philisiwe Mbongwana, the CE volunteer who took the photo!
Upstarters being aware (link to competition)
“An innovative, true multimedia project that drew a lot of attention: The Village Scribe Association (international NGO) and eKhaya ICT (South African local IT business) developed a social networking software awareNet especially designed to be used largely offline, adapting to rural and peri-urban setting. Eastern Cape learners benefit from free lessons and a partnership with the Zazi Foundation for educational video content about health: teachAIDS videos, provided by the Stanford University School of Education. Inspired by the World AIDS Day 2010, learners collaboratively worked on a project about HIV/AIDS in wiki style. Certain parts of this projects were selected online by the Management of Grocott’s Mail, Grahamstown’s independent newspaper, to be included in the November 2010 Upstart supplement (The Paper for Youth by Youth). Here you can see the learners proudly reading their articles in the Upstart Paper. The photograph was taken by Rhodes University Community Engagement volunteers who work with the learners on several projects on awareNet. Together they started an awareNet photo project in which photos for the ‘eLearning Africa Photo Competition 2011′ were taken, uploaded, described, and chosen for submission.”
My favourite photograph was taken by Lutz Scharf. It was ranked 3rd place (out of 126 submitted photos) by the online-voters. Congratulations again!
When power is more of a problem than owning a cell (link to competition)
“The barber shop in Nkwalini, South Africa, allows cell phone owners to recharge their coll phones for a fee of three Rand. The photo illustrates the influence of ICTs on the lives of the community, depicting a socio-technical interface between traditional and modern culture: the barber shop is not merely a filling station for empty cell phone batteries, it is at the same time a social meeting place where gossip is exchanged and social connections are groomed. Traditional and modern communication pathways meet and cross here in an innovative manner that highlights just one of the many positive influences of ICTs.”
The Makana Municipality had R53.7m and didn’t spend it! And Makana’s councillors are furious that, just before their term of office ends, so few of the projects which they’ve spent months planning have actually come to fruition. From Makana Municipality’s capital expenditure and conditional grant budget of R69.6 million, R15.9m – a little over 20% – had been spent by the end of January. (Find out more in Grocott’s Mail.)
The Village Scribe Association has a number of projects that would help to uplift the Rhini/Grahamstown community on a very low budget. We believe that highest priority must be the right for good education. Several very respected and active stakeholders based in Grahamstown submitted a proposal to the Makana Municipality for building a hub of education, communication and IT training. We would only need a fraction of the money to renovate and furnish an existing building. All community activities by the different stakeholders have been running for a long time but would greatly benefit from a communal place where cooperations could be invigorated and forces bundled.
Act now, Makana! Prepare the building for your people! Make this communal hub happen before it’s too late and the money has to be returned!
The VSA started a great collaboration with Rhodes’ Community Engagement. CE organised 10 volunteers who are going to work with us for the year 2011. We are very happy to welcome such a large group of motivated, young and active students. Thank you very much for your interest!
The volunteers are going to join Thozi, Rhini’s community coordinator, into the awareNet classes at the various schools in Rhini to work together with the learners and assist Thozi in his work, ie. teaching. All of them are experienced Internet users and professional social networkers who cannot wait to get into contact – personally and electronically – with all those learners who have very little experience in this field.
We believe that they will be a great inspiration for them (eg. by blogging about their own experiences and personal views on awareNet) and that they will motivate them to become more innovative and self-confident in the awareNet network. We hope that, together, they can work on important projects that will be published in Upstart for a greater audience, and that the learners will start discussing their opinions, issues and concerns more openly with increasing trust in the young volunteers – something that is usually missing in the South African traditional way of teaching.
- The most exciting technical aspect is that even schools without Internet access or very low Internet quota can use it. Nevertheless, they can connect to any other school in the network, even oversees. (How?)
- The most exciting tool of awareNet is the possibility for collaborative content creation which means that a group of learners from various schools can work together on any project that they like. (Examples)
- The most exciting collaboration is with Upstart, the Paper for the Youth be the Youth. Outstanding projects are published in the supplement of the Grocott’s Mail, Grahamstowns local newspaper. (Example)
- The most exciting community engagement is performed by Thozi Ngeju, our community coordinator who goes into various schools in Rhini-Grahamstown to teach the learners how to use a computer, the Internet and awareNet. (More about Thozi >>)
- And most exciting of everything is that awareNet is improving on a daily basis thanks to the learners and Thozi who give their feed back and Richard Strickland who enhances awareNet according to their needs. (The technical details will follow in the next blog about the technical background of awareNet.)