During 2001 ISPA decided to investigate sponsorship options in order to fund an Internet related training project. An ISPA task team was formed to identify the existing needs within the different areas of social development. After deliberation it was agreed to initiate a programme to assist in solving the computer literacy problems currently being experienced in schools. Several meetings were held between officials from the Gauteng Department of Education and members of the task team. It was agreed that teachers from the Johannesburg East District 9, one of 12 districts with the Gauteng Department of Education, would be given the opportunity to attend a basic PC Literacy training course.
The ISPA Management Committee approved the Social Development Pilot Project “Train the Teachers”. The task team commenced with formulating the criteria for the implementation of a “Beginner’s Course”. SANGONeT’s training facility was selected as the venue. The course content was developed and finalised with the assistance of the SANGONeT Training Co-ordinator. The first course took place during November/December 2001 over a period of 5 Saturdays. The trainers reported that the course had been very successful and that teachers had shown enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and were grateful for the opportunity to enhance their skills.
An ISPA Social Development Committee was formed and UniForum SA approached with a request to give consideration to sponsoring this training. UniForum kindly agreed to contribute an approximate amount of R20,000.00 per month. An ISPA / UniForum partnership was formed accordingly.
Proposals submitted by the trainers were considered and members of the SocDev Committee agreed that the first group of 20 teachers who had completed the “Beginners Course” would be given an opportunity to attend Excel and Internet Courses, (not covered in the first course). The bridging course took place from 25 May to 15 June 2002. A second “Beginners Course” was run from 24 to 28 June 2002. During 2002, a total of 40 teachers were trained.
As of end 2012, 2932 teachers have completed the Teachers Training course. This would not have been possible without the support of Uniforum SA, ISPA members, Avuxeni Computer Academy, Netday, or the Future Foundation in sponsoring teachers. For every teacher sponsored, it becomes possible to extend the training to a further 60 who can benefit from the course.
Sponsorship covers transportation to and from the centre, meals, the training venue, a printed training manual, and the trainer’s time. Furthermore educators receive certificates and the credits obtained from the training will count towards a National Certificate in IT.
Training takes place at schools outfitted with the appropriate computer lab in open source software such as OpenOffice.
The training has had a very real impact on the lives of the participating teachers and on their learners. In many cases, the teachers run after-hours classes for other teachers and students at their schools, as well as for their local communities, passing on the skills they have acquired even further.
Since 2004 ISPA and Uniforum SA have been awarding a Super Teacher of the Year award to the educator who has best imparted their newly-acquired IT knowledge to the learners and the local community after participating in ISPA’s nationwide teacher training programme.