April 17

The Good Work Foundation: Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural Africa


April 17, 2018

At Rhino Africa, doing good is intrinsically linked to everything that we do, and educating the future custodians of Africa is at the very core of our existence. We have partnered closely with The Good Work Foundation (GWF) for the last ten years now and always look forward to having them in the office. They are helping local communities bridge the digital divide.

Good work foundation is bridging the digital divide
Maria Awogu: Head of Programmes and Campus Operations

Ryan James and Maria Awogu popped over on Thursday, bearing scrumptious cupcake gifts, which is always a way to soften up our Rhino Crash before an important presentation. Sweet teeth satiated, we were all incredibly eager to be introduced to Maria for the first time, and to get an update on the going ons at GWF’s Hazyview Cluster of digital learning.

Good work foundation is bridging the digital divide
Cupcakes for the Rhino Crash

South Africa is in the grip of an education crisis, with an underperforming school system, failing to meet the requirements for the 21st-century skills that are essential to a new African digital marketplace. Our children are not just failing to develop the right skills, they are failing to receive the simple foundation that they need to enter into the modern day employment sphere. Nowhere is this divide more prevalent than in South Africa’s rural communities, where children lack access to both the English Language and digital learning.

GWF is driven by the passion, and necessity, of giving every rural child the opportunity to bridge this digital divide, through exposure to ‘Wonder Learning’ using digital as a means of teaching. Since its founding in 2006, the Good Work Foundation’s mission has been to “pioneer a learning model for rural Africa that can build affordable and targeted education support structures and transform rural communities in poor, vulnerable places.”

Good work foundation is bridging the digital divide
Ryan James: Head of Development at GWF

In 2012, the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus (HDLC) was established close to the border of the Greater Kruger National Park. Since its inception, HDLC has partnered with eight of the local community’s primary schools, and every week, they provide access to digital learning to over 4 000 of these children. In addition to the early learning programmes, the campus has also seen more than 1 500 young adults graduate with global ICT qualifications.

In recognition of their success, HDLC and GWF have received their fair share of prestigious awards over the last two years, including:

  • Winner of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Gender Mainstreaming Award in the category of Empowerment of Women in the Community in 2014 and 2016
  • CompTIA Award for an Academy Partner in 2015, recognising excellence in ICT training
  • Winner in the Africa category at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Reimagine Education awards (2017)
  • Winner of the Best Practice ICDL Award (2017)
Good work foundation is bridging the digital divide
‘Wonder Learning’ using digital as a means of teaching
Photo Credit: The Good Work Foundation

Off the back of HDLC’s immense impact in the community, GWF has been formally endorsed by the Mpumalanga Department of Education and will create a cluster of six digital learning campuses in the area. By 2020, these new facilities will reach over 10,000 students from the rural communities bordering the Kruger National Park, changing lives and giving South Africa’s future generations the education needed to overcome the digital divide, and seize, the opportunities that those before them never had access to.

One of the most exciting developments over the last year, was the establishment of a Service Desk at HDLC, in partnership with T-Systems South Africa. This has served to create employment opportunities for HDLC graduates that don’t require them to relocate from their local communities. In 2017, the Service Desk provided entry-level IT engineer jobs to 10 young people from the community, and this year that number will expand to 30.

Good work foundation is bridging the digital divide
IT Service Desk at HDLC
Photo Credit: The Good Work Foundation

This ecosystem of learning and working is supporting skills-development and innovation in rural communities; the jobs created serve as income that can be reinvested into sustaining HDLC’s learning programmes. The whole system at the HDLC is truly ground-breaking and has created a holistic upliftment environment that benefits the entire community.

It’s an absolute honour to partner with people such as Ryan, Maria and GWF Founder and CEO, Kate Groch. These are the people taking the initiative to ensure that South Africa has a bright future, through the education of Africa’s most treasured asset, her youth and children.

Good work foundation is bridging the digital divide
Graduation at HDLC
Photo Credit: The Good Work Foundation

Rhino Africa is proud to be directly involved with NGO’s such as The Good Work Foundation, who are having such success in community upliftment and social outreach programmes by bridging the digital divide. Travel-lovers who simply choose us for their African adventures are giving back and contributing to the legacy we are leaving in this continent we call home.

Contact Rhino Africa’s CSR division to learn more about the role you can play in helping us build a sustainable future for the people, wildlife, and landscapes of Africa.


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About the author 

Laura Paterson

Hailing from across the border, Laura was born and brought up on a farm in Zimbabwe, where she spent most of her childhood fishing, horse riding and eating mud. Boarding school instilled in her an excellent vocabulary, a love of all sports and the intrinsic instinct to break the rules whenever possible. After two years doing travel writing and photography in South East Asia, Laura inevitably returned home to write about the continent she loves most.

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