Solar Learning Lab in Xitlhelani, South Africa

Solar Learning Lab in Xitlhelani, South Africa

This project is in the early stages of fundraising, keep an eye on this page for updates. 

Utelize have pledged their support, and the support of their partners to help fund the opening of a new Solar Learning Lab in Xitlhelani, South Africa.

Utelize; an IT managed service provider; specialising in mobile workforce technology, IoT and mobile data services, will raise funds for the project with the support of their strategic channel partners and corporate customers, by donating 100% of the proceeds from recycled mobile devices and unused IT hardware to the project. In return, the businesses who gift their devices receive a device inventory and certified data wipe of their devices to ensure they are free of corporate and personal data. 

Vision: Bring new opportunities for social and economic development to the people in Xitlhelani and Rhulani through digital development on both individual and community level.

Mission: Install a Solar Learning Lab in Xitlhelani, one computer class at Mahuntsi High secondary public school, and a community-owned wireless internet service. The Solar Learning Lab will be sustainable in all its forms, economic, environmental and social. It will mainly focus within the context of social development of a community with very few resources.

Aim: This project's primary objective is to provide quality information and communication technology education and connectivity to the Xitlhelani and Rhulani
people. In the Solar Learning Lab, activities will be carried out in the fields of education and literacy for both children and adults, without gender or disease discrimination. Also, the internet service will be built into the community as a “bottom-up”, circular ecosystem in which the community participates directly, not just as simple consumers, making them self-sufficient. It is intended to increase the economic and social independence of the villages and to strengthen ties within the community and communities. It should be noted that, from the beginning, the chief and his headman, those responsible for the education system and the local population will be involved with the design and running of the project.

Reason: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has changed every aspect of our lives. It has changed how we work, live, communicate, do business and most importantly how we learn. In this new “Golden Age of technology”, even though there is a continuous increase in access to and use of ICT, the division between those who have access and know-how to use them and those who do not is increasing more and more.

Amid the global spread of COVID-19, the exceptional strict confinement to our homes has aggravated the inequalities, and it has taught important lessons about the urgency of bridging the digital divide.

The villages of Xitlhelani and Rhulani are situated in Limpopo, the province with the lowest level of development in South Africa. There are no computers and the internet network is too costly and not reliable. Children in this area do not receive computer courses and they do not develop computer knowledge. If they make it to the tertiary educational level, especially university, where computers are necessary as an integral part of their learning and assignment writing and researching, they are not able to complete their studies because of this lack of computer knowledge. This also affects their work hunting as most of them do not know how to type a CV or search for a job. In the midst of the pandemic and the lockdown, schools had to close leaving hundreds of children and youth without school and opportunities to proceed with their classes exacerbating their already challenging situation.

This project proposal was developed in collaboration with the Xitlhelani people and it is going to bridge this digital barrier for children and adults. It will bring new educational opportunities, helping them to improve their skills and potentially increase their chances on the labour market. This project strives to bring in new possibilities to the people of the village for social and economic development on an individual and community level.