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Ericsson and Wot-if? Trust have announced that the first two modules of the jointly-run Digital Lab Programme has concluded providing a group of local youth from Diepsloot, in Johannesburg, a glimpse into the world of programming and new technologies.

At the beginning of 2020, Ericsson together with Wot-if? Trust rolled out the Digital Lab Programme in Diepsloot with a group of children between the ages of 11 and 14. Now the children have graduated in the Game Development and Robotics modules. The young participants have been through more than 30 hours of hands-on training and a graduation ceremony was held in February to mark the achievement.

The Digital Lab Programme aims to provide an innovative education program targeted at youth from all socio-economic backgrounds to support them in their first encounters with the world of programming and new technologies. The program uses hands-on learning methodologies where instructors work in small groups to guide, encourage and help children to have fun while discovering and learning about basic programming, robotics and game development.

Additionally, the Digital Lab Programme saw the involvement of Ericsson South Africa employees, who volunteered before COVID-19 as Digital Lab trainers for the kids who enrolled from Diepsloot.

Gail Styger, Executive Trustee of Wot-if? Trust, said, “The Digital Labs program has offered young people from Diepsloot the opportunity to experience firsthand, the exciting world of Robotics and Coding, and what the possibilities are for future careers in technology. Young people in Diepsloot rarely have access to digital devices in school and when they do, the impact is limited due to poor or no connectivity, no funds for data, inexperienced teachers and lack of integration of technology with learning and the curriculum. Digital Skills are at the center of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a prerequisite for children and young adults for future employment. We are so proud to have piloted this program with Ericsson and with the opportunity to continue the development of the digital skills for the young people in Diepsloot.”

Mohamed Essof, Country Manager of Ericsson South Africa, said, “As an organisation, Ericsson has always believed in using technology for good. Our Digital Lab Program helps students gain the skills they need to succeed in the future workplace. We are really proud of this initiative that is making a difference in the lives of our future generation in a resource poor setting such as Diepsloot. Since the launch of the E-hub and Digital Lab Programme, Ericsson has continued to support ICT development in underprivileged and under-resourced communities. We are extremely proud of the 21 students who have graduated and trust this program has made a lasting impact on their development and exposure to ICT.”

Wot-if? Trust has worked with Ericsson since 2017 after the construction of the eHUB in Diepsloot. During this time, many young people have had the opportunity to participate in digital programs that aid our efforts to bridge the digital divide.