Umjindi Resource Centre

By: Umjindi Resource Centre  11-11-2011
Keywords: Computers

The centre offers a digital village with 36 computers all linked to the internet via a broadband connection. Dell donated 19 new computers to the centre as well as a server. All computers are equipped with software sponsored by Microsoft that include the full Office package – Word, Excel, Power Point, Access, Publisher etc, Encarta – a digital encyclopaedia with a wealth of information and also their Student package with templates for school projects and enhanced mathematical content like a scientific calculator and more. The 19 new computers all have the latest Microsoft Vista operating system and the remaining 17 computers have the Microsoft XP operating system.

Mathemagics – software was donated by Mathemagics that help children improve their mathematical skills. Assistance with maths from Grade 1 – Grade 12 is provided by this computer program. It also includes a pre-school program that includes more than maths – it develops perception skills, prepares pre-schoolers for reading and much more. A spelling and vocabulary program is also included in the software package.

Literacy project - Teaching children to read involves more than helping them to recognize the combinations of sounds and letters that make up words. Understanding the meaning of text—words, numbers, and images, in print or digital form—is a no less critical part of what it means to be literate today. Umjindi Resource Centre, recognising the need for improved literacy in its own community expanded its services to include a computer based reading program. The Reading Excellence Programme was initially launched, with the help of a donation from KFC, for Grade 12 learners to improve their reading skills to a level that will enable them to read at university level and subsequent donations from KFC and Sappi enabled the URC to acquire the other phases from the foundation phase (Grade 1) of the programme as well.

The centre now has the full program available for learners from Grade 1 - Grade 12 and a literacy assistant was recently employed to assist children. Children can participate and improve their reading skills at the affordable rates that members have become accustomed to. The literacy assistant position was made possible by funding from Unitrans.

Reference library section provides approximately 8000 reference books on a wide variety of topics. The encyclopaedias and reference books are used for project research and general information gathering to supplement the school curriculum.
The reference library also offers a study area where students and scholars can study or do homework.

Printing and business facilities are provided at minimal cost. We do black and white and colour printing, good quality copies, faxing, ring binding and laminating. These services are proving to be very popular amongst the members of the centre as these facilities are not readily available in their own homes or places of work.

Educational experiments are extremely popular amongst the children and even adults are often seen trying to figure out the puzzles. The play tables with crayons and building blocks provide a space where children wait before or after using our facilities and allow parents to use the centre while not having to worry about their small children.

An indigenous reading garden. Our entrance for disabled members also passes through the garden giving them a warm and beautiful welcome.

A meeting / training room. Used for staff and board meetings but also rented out at minimal cost to small businesses and institutions wishing to train their staff and the facility is also available for teachers giving extra classes.

The Umjindi Resource Centre is also the custodians of the Digital Doorway project. It is a basic computer literacy initiative sponsored by the CSIR and the Department of Science and Technology. It is based on the principle of minimally invasive education or unassisted learning. Underpinning the project is the idea of people’s inherent cognitive ability to teach themselves computer skills with minimal external intervention. For this to happen, computers must be easily accessible to potential learners in an environment conducive to experimentation. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will continue to play an increasingly important role in education. Unfortunately developing countries are missing out on many advantages afforded by ICT, due to the lack of facilities and teachers trained in ICT. Unsupervised learning, or Minimally Invasive Education, provides a mechanism to promote mass computer literacy in developing communities

Staff & volunteer program. Another aspect of our centre we are very proud of is our volunteer program. Although the centre is managed by full time employees we have a strong volunteer base from the local community who assist in running the centre. The volunteers do not receive a salary, but in exchange for their time they are trained in various aspects of running the centre and gain valuable work experience, while serving the community. Our volunteers often come to us with no computer literacy or work experience and leave the centre to follow good careers. We are constantly striving to improve our volunteer program. The volunteer program is a win-win situation for the centre and the volunteers, without their assistance it would be difficult to handle the day to day operations at the centre.

Keywords: Computers