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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Luleka Mkuzo is passionate about leveraging new knowledge and solutions for societal impact, which forms part of the Durban University of Technology’s Envision 2030 strategic plan of improving lives and livelihoods.

Besides finding time to focus on her academic studies, she also believes in giving back to the community. Mkuzo is currently working towards her qualification of Doctor of Philosophy Management Sciences, in the department of Entrepreneurial Studies and Management. She is also the founder of Urglobal Mentoring Network – a mobile computer training solution that utilises a school’s infrastructure to teach computer skills to students, teachers, community leaders and members in rural communities.

Her passion has always been social development specifically for rural communities. She has ensured that selected schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have access to technology and computer training.

Mkuzo relays the top three highlights for Urglobal in 2020 which were the Minister of Basic Education’s announcement on the adjustment of the Primary school current curriculum to include digital technology for grade 6-9.

“This has been Urglobal’s focus area since the pilot back in 2017. The change means that schools no longer have to sacrifice additional hours catching up after giving Urglobal time slots in their schedules.  It also means that in the last four years Urglobal has been in the right path, proactive, communicating with the Department of Education, activists for technology training to be mobile ensuring access and inclusion for all regardless of location,” she said.

Also, the partnership with Transnet and Advisian, successfully executing their first rural project with her company and exceeding their expectations.

Her third highlight for 2020 has been the scaling up from Eastern Cape and taking on new rural schools in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, and being able to open communication channels between Urglobal and the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mkuzo relays some of her plans, goals and objectives for this year, 2021.

“In 2021 we are looking at creating more collaborations and partnerships allowing up to scale in more schools and communities. Also, we have a new community collaboration with further impact together with Coding for Mama’s which has been sponsored by the UK-SA Tech Hub. The programme is a new pilot aiming at teaching coding skills to rural mothers, equipping them with skills they can use to generate income and independence amongst the challenging COVID-19 economy. The programme will be run in three provinces, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape,” she relayed.

She further stated that last year, Urglobal had started communicating with one of the leading mining companies in South Africa, to bring the programme to their mining schools.

“We will be piloting the first school in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, the long-term plan is to roll out the programme in KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and North West Province. This is very exciting for Urglobal as it’s a long term partnership,” she expressed.

Explaining how Urglobal envisages to work around COVID-19 in terms of achieving its goals, she said that January 2021 has already posed a challenge as they were scheduled to kickstart on 11 January with a community called Mbenya in the Eastern Cape.

“The surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths has left us with no choice but to postpone going into communities and schools. Whilst we do have a partnership with ACP Marketing who sponsors all our COVID-19 protective kits, our focus in the meantime is to work from home, our technical team is working on acquiring more equipment, we are speaking to potential partners with a shared interest in our mission. Our plan is to have a dedicated fleet of vehicles dedicated to driving technology training in rural schools and communities, we have approached a few manufacturers in this regard,” she said.

Pictured: Pupils at Luphilisweni Primary School learning computer skills through Urglobal.

Waheeda Peters

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