Luleka Mkuzo

Urglobal Mentoring Network (NPC)

What Does Your Company Do?

The Urglobal Mobile Technology Park (MRTP) is a mobile technology training facility where a variety of technologies and soft skills are taught to rural communities at places of their convenience. Our innovation identifies and addresses the crisis of post-apartheid South Africa. We are trying to undo apartheid place-making trajectories and the associated spatial, social and economic consequences of these. The MRTP provides functional exposure to technologies that meet local educational, economic and social contextual needs. Using an asset-based approach to development, the MRTP is run on collaborative basis with the equal and active participation of community leaders, ley people, entrepreneurs, government departments, civic and religious organizations. In 2015 using the asset based community development approach (ABCD) we started engaging in detail with three communities namely Kubha, Luphilisweni under Alfred Nzo District and Bushulas in the Oliver Tambo Districts all three in the eastern Cape Province. One of the gaps identified was the lack of technology skills training for the students and community members. This was due to the limited access for skills training, poor technology infrastructure and the lack of security in schools. This gave birth to the idea of a mobile computer training solution where we can still utilize the school infrastructure to train. At the end of 2016, Luleka who is the founder had just resigned from mining to drive initiatives on a full time basis in rural communities. She had received money from her shares which she used to invest in 17 laptops. With the approval from the DOE and the rural leaders on the 11 of September 2017 we ran a pilot of the mobile computer classes. The pilot involved a total of 55 people, the demographics were as follows: grade 7 total of 20 people, 9 males and 11 females, grade 9 total of 18 people 7 males and 11 females, women total of 14, men total of 13. The pilot was very successful, we started training on a more regular basis in schools training various groups on basic computer skills. To date we have trained 318 people majority students ranging from grade 4-9. Parallel to this in 2017 we realized that having a mobile training programme works and provides access to communities that are isolated and out of reach but we needed to have our own training hub. A base that would focus on a more holistic training approach taking into account skills required especially for the 4th Industrial revolution and other critical attributes like soft skills, critical thinking, mentorship, career guidance and health awareness ensuring that rural people are equipped and can compete for global opportunities. Students are prepared for technological advancement to varsity life, they are equipped for e-learning, student portals assignments and email communique, the aim is to expose them to international opportunities. We approached the leaders and asked for land in one of the rural communities, we were able to secure two hectors in 2017 in a rural community called Kubha in the Alfred Nzo District of the Eastern cape. We have also been able to secure MICTSETA accreditation.

What is your Biggest Success?

Our greatest achievements have been: 1/Getting authorization to work with schools using their infrastructure and hours to teach the programme; 2/ Being able to obtain two hectors of land from the Chief and Eastern cape department of agriculture to build our own digital hub to support our mobile concept 3/ Getting accreditation from MICTSETA for computer training 4/ Winning the festival of ideas a national competition run by GIBS, SAB foundation and Barloworld which identifies social and environmental innovations. The world is advancing rapidly; technology skills have become as important as breathing. Majority of opportunities are accessed through online platforms. The whole world is now talking about the skills required for the 4th industrial revolution. If we do not try to bring technology skills closer to rural community shorten the distance, the inequality gap will only escalate further. Access to opportunities must be for everyone not only for those around cities.

What has been your Biggest Hurdle?

biggest challenges have been as follows: 1/ Sourcing equipment we required for the mobile training, what helped initially is that Luleka received money from her shares after her resignation from mining. This is what helped secure the first 17 laptops we used to run the pilot. 2/ The environment we work in is very financially restrained, we needed to come up with an innovative strategy to allow inclusion for all students to participate in the training and still afford it. We then had to apply to MICTSETA for accreditation, this would allow us to partner with cooperates for skills development. The accreditation took more than a year to finally get approval. 3/ We currently have one reliable car that we use for our mobile training, we have 6 schools that we are working with, 6 new ones who want the programme. The two Districts we work in have a total of 966 schools that want the programme. Having one reliable vehicle limits our impact.

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