ICT stu­dents win chance to fly South Africa’s flag in China

Ten stu­dents cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in Seeds for the Fu­ture pro­gramme

African Times - - Business - GIFT NDOLWANE

POP­U­LAR as a wheat-grow­ing area and named af­ter the bib­li­cal Bethlehem, the Free State Prov­ince city is not an area you will en­vis­age meet­ing some of the shin­ing prospects of the global in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, fe­male for that mat­ter.

It is ex­actly where the duo of Mpho Anna Wittes (23) and Tholoana Mo­taung (22) hail from.

Shar­ing a room at the Cen­tral Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy is not the only thing in com­mon be­tween the two.

Com­ing from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds, never in their wildest imag­i­na­tions had they I imag­ined that one day they would be in China, the Asian coun­try boast­ing ar­guably the big­gest ICT in­dus­try, to hone their skills.

They also spent the bet­ter part of 2016 off-class as the Fees Must Fall Cam­paign brought terir­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try to a halt.

Now, they are among the crème de la crème of the ten univer­sity stu­dents across the coun­try to em­bark on week study and cul­tural ex­change trip to re­ceive train­ing in cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies such as 5G (fifth gen­er­a­tion mo­bile net­works), Long Term Evo­lu­tion and cloud com­put­ing in the state-of-theart lab­o­raties in the cap­i­tal Bei­jing and Shen­zhen, the hot­house of global in­no­va­tion.

The ten South African stu­dents will fly the coun­try’s flag high in China cour­tesy of a part­ner­ship be­tween Huawei and De­part­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion’s and Postal Ser­vices (DTPS) af­ford­ing un­der­grad­u­ates to par­tic­i­pate in the global Seeds for the Fu­ture pro­gramme.

The ini­tia­tive, sup­ported by the Chi­nese Em­bassy, is a cor­ner­stone of gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor ef­fort to ad­dress the ICT skills gap, which is mostly preva­lent among girls.

Apart from Cen­tral Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, other stu­dents are drawn from var­i­ous sub­jects in the ICT sec­tor from varsities in­clud­ing Durban Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Nelson Man­dela Univer­sity, North­West Univer­sity and Tsh­wane Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy.

Some 500 ap­pli­ca­tions had been re­ceived.

To Mo­taung, the once-in-al­ife­time op­por­tu­nity is even more ex­tra­or­di­nary in that she was not on the orig­i­nal roll.

“I was not on the ini­tial list. Every­thing was sud­den af­ter they dropped a learner who was not study­ing a BTEC-aligned qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” she said.

The trip to China is a far cry from the daily tribu­la­tions of be­ing a sin­gle mother who fell preg­nant dur­ing the first year of study.

She is the only child in her fam­ily. “I have not let the strug­gles of be­ing a young, sin­gle mother get in her way for a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and at­tain­ing skills in ICT. This is an in­valu­able learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for them that will broaden my knowl­edge be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions,” she said.

Class­mate Wittes, a sec­ond born from three sib­lings, whose mother is a pen­sioner re­lated of her daily strug­gles to make ends meet.

“I de­pend on loans and Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to fi­nance my stud­ies,” she said.

Hence, she is de­ter­mined to make the most of the trip to China.

“I will use this chance to im­prove my life and make par­ents and make my coun­try proud,” said Wittes.

Startlingly, she doesn’t have smart­phone.

“Mpho, I wish that when you come back (from China) you will not only have a dream of own­ing a mo­bile smart­phone but you will help de­velop a first af­ford­able smart­phone for South African chil­dren,”Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion’s and Postal Ser­vices Min­is­ter, Siyabonga Cwele, said in Jo­han­nes­burg at the send-off of the un­der­grad­u­ates.

“As you em­bark on this jour­ney, re­mem­ber you are car­ry­ing the hopes and dreams of this na­tion,” the min­is­ter told the ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

He pledged sup­port stu­dents’ con­tri­bu­tion to build­ing a re­silient fi­bre net­work to sup­port the next gen­er­a­tion tech­nol­ogy of cloud data cen­tres in South Africa.

A Huawei cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity (CSR) ini­tia­tive, the global Seeds Pro­gramme runs in 96 coun­tries with the aim of ben­e­fit­ing over 30 000 stu­dents.

“Ev­ery gen­er­a­tion pro­duces its own great char­ac­ter, and each ex­erts im­pact for hun­dreds of years. We hope this is a step­ping stone for the im­pact that these stu­dents will make in the fu­ture,” Steven Wu, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Huawei South Africa, said.

Pic­ture: Gift Ndolwane

OP­POR­TU­NITY: Cen­tral Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy lec­turer Dr Nol­untu Mpekoa is flanked by Mpho Anna Wittes, left, and Tholoana Veto Mo­taung.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.