Britehouse commemorates teachers graduation: corporate citizenship

Britehouse is celebrating the graduation of 17 teachers as part of its and Diepsloot Preschools Project's initiative to see more women become certified to run pre-schools in underprivileged areas.

In recognition of their achievement and to set them on the path towards success, Britehouse has donated a tablet to each graduate, while Diepsloot Preschools Project presented each with a large box of preschool equipment, toys, and books. These gifts were in addition to the two-year employment contract they received with a preschool under the banner of the Diepsloot Preschools Project while they studied.

Given that the project is ETDP-SETA registered, these women have received a formal certification which converts preschools into early childhood development centres. As such, their small businesses qualify for funding from the Department of Social Development.

It's a step towards economic sustainability, while providing underprivileged children with a means to succeed at school.

Humble beginnings.

Initially launched in April 2016 as a collaboration between Britehouse, the Diepsloot Preschools Project, and Training Force, this project aims to train previously unemployed ladies in townships around South Africa.

Diepsloot Preschools Project lends its considerable experience in identifying the teaching needs gained in practical preschool settings to the Britehouse digital hub. This hub gives students access to smart technology, Internet and WiFi infrastructure, and a blended learning approach for early childhood development classroom training. Additionally, Britehouse funded the digitisation of this SAQA Level 4 training content, which Diepsloot Preschools Project oversaw with Training Force. Digitising the content is how students were able to unlock and leverage the power of technology in the classroom and achieve their certification.

Britehouse also funded the digitisation of the pre-loaded teaching resources on the tablets. This provides the graduates with the tools to teach, facilitates true monitoring, and evaluates the impact that the teaching resources will have on their pupils.

Says Emmeline Bester, Britehouse CSI Manager: "The digitisation process formed a crucial part of Britehouse's CSI focus on enterprise development as we were able to commission a young black software developer to undertake the vital task of digitising the content."

Looking to a big, bright future.

While this project started as part of Britehouse's enterprise and skills development strategy, the company soon realised that there were multi-layered benefits which couldn't be ignored.

Apart from providing women with a living, this project has also ensured that the children at these preschools will reach primary school amply prepared for their formal education. Furthermore, through replication, this initiative could contribute to an improvement in the matric pass rate in the long-run. Ultimately, this project could result in long-term success for South Africa.

Patti Hanley, Diepsloot Preschools Project Founder and Developer says: "We are looking to the future and have already identified key areas for improvement that we will implement for the Tembisa course that was launched in January this year.

"We have learnt a great deal from the first course and plan to move the programme content to our own hosting site, add more material in addition to the 30-week daily lesson plan we have put together, and make the course more user-friendly to first-time computer learners."

Widespread improvement across the nation

As a result of their increased knowledge, the quality of the course content, and the marked difference in teaching methods, the recently graduated students have received a phenomenal reception from head teachers.

The ball has clearly started rolling, and there is simply no stopping it.

"At the open day for applications last week in Diepsloot, we went armed with sponsorship for 15 learners but 117 applications were received and we have our work cut out to raise additional funding for more learners," says Hanley.

The next objective is to procure funding for more courses in Eastern Cape and Western Province. Moreover, the Diepsloot Preschools Project has worked diligently with the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation in the Free State in the hopes of doing training in this region as well.

Says Hanley: "Our initiatives have also extended to placing 34 township residents from our preschools this year on a Business Administration course sponsored by Britehouse, which will help local entrepreneurs successfully structure, run, and grow their businesses."

These initiatives form part of the 67 Day Digital Activation Movement which is designed by Britehouse. The Movement enables companies to use digital hubs to provide measurable community benefits within short timeframes. The 67-day window is modelled on the United Nations' 67 minutes of activism used annually to celebrate Nelson Mandela's birthday.

"Through the partnership of corporate, private, and NPO knowledge, we can equip underprivileged communities, boost local economies, and drive enterprise development, which is why we encourage corporates to get involved and see how they can build capacity at multiple levels in society," concluded Bester.​