It all began in 1992, when Seppo Ainamo, the project’s founder and coordinator, promised to pay the school fees of one 8-year-old boy, whose 22 year-old widowed mother couldn’t afford to send him to school. The Dzikwa Trust Fund, or simply Dzikwa for short, was established as a legal entity and began operations in Zimbabwe in September 2002. The underlying purpose of the society is to empower Zimbabwean orphans and give them a chance to lead a fulfilling life. It seeks to give the children long-term help, in their own community, in order to guarantee their basic education and general welfare. The ICDL project started in April 2015 and in August 2015, the first ICDL lessons and exams were taken. The objectives were:
- To enhance the professional capacity of Dzikwa ICT Centre
- To enable Dzikwa students to be trained in ICDL
- To provide ICDL and other digital skills training affordably to the Dzivarasekwa and surrounding communities
- To generate funds for Dzikwa Trust
The team that drove the project to be what it is now is comprised of the following: Nyaradzai Matiza, the ICDL trainer; Farai Pedzisayi, Tendai Mikioni and Ruvimbo Moyo, the Dzikwa ICT Centre assistants; Levita Chenera, Dzikwa Field Officer; Seppo Ainamo and Oili Wuolle, Dzikwa Directors; and Anna Puhakka, a volunteer from Finland.
We sold our old computers and used the proceeds to pay for the initial costs. The directors helped to market the initiative in Finland, by convincing the sponsors to fund their sponsored children to take ICDL. Farai and Anna helped in designing the ICDL brochure, flyers and posters. Tendai and Ruvimbo assisted in distributing the brochures, flyers and posters in and around Dzivarasekwa. Levita helped identify students for the first class and in flyer distribution.
There was no place where the Dzivarasekwa and surrounding communities could go to learn basic computing and other modules that are a requirement for survival in today’s workplace and day–to-day living. People had to travel to town to learn ICDL and other courses. In the two local schools in Dzivarasekwa, students can take the HEXCO exams. Our students had been requesting an internationally recognised certification to be offered in our Dzikwa ICT Centre. The first ICDL lessons were done on 12 August 2015. A total 17 students (10 boys and 7girls) had funding available from their sponsors, and the volunteer in the ICT Centre, Farai Pedzisayi is also learning ICDL. The first ICDL exams were taken on 21 August 2015. A total of 6 sittings were made for the ICDL exams in 2015. So far, four students have passed the initial basic ICDL exams: three boys (one was then in Form 3, and two then in Form 5) and one girl (then in Form 3).
So far, all the initial costs have been recovered during the first class that was held in Dzikwa. The project started off as an in-house project, offering training to the Dzikwa students only. Now the marketing efforts are targeting the immediate surrounding communities. Presentations have been done in local churches, the police and the clinic. The local people, even small business operators, are keen to start the ICDL training. We have structured the course in such a way that the basic ICDL is attained when one has done the Computer Essentials, Online Essentials, Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Presentation modules. To date, 18 skills cards have been sold and all are from the first class only. The project is now being launched to include people outside of Dzikwa. We plan on selling about 50 profile cards by the end of this year. We also plan to have trained two more ICDL trainers.
The first class was made up of Dzikwa students who had done a basic ICT course in the ICT Centre prior to the introduction of the ICDL courses. The students had an appreciation of ICT, and how to use it. A few concepts were new to them, hence ICDL was more interesting. Also, the idea of getting an internationally recognised qualification was appealing to the students. The students were trained and a lot of exam-type questions were done.
The project motivated our Dzikwa children to excel in ICT subjects in their respective schools, with some taking Computer Studies at A Level. The visibility of Dzikwa ICT Centre has increased in the community. Dzikwa staff members and students have the opportunity to be trained as ICDL trainers. Community outreach was conducted through the means of face to face deep briefing and advertisement through the use of brochures & posters.
The project was a learning point for the Trust. It is a way of exploring ways in which the cost centres in the Trust can be self-sustaining. The project is also enhancing Dzikwa Trust’s marketing and business management skills through the exploration of different marketing methods. The project has a stand-alone income, budget and cashbook to monitor cash flows.
“The modules are practical; we get to go online. I now have a Gmail account, and an Outlook account too. The trainer is thorough when teaching. The practical use of computers was explained and demonstrated well.” – Bishop Charamba
“There are no surprises in the exams, what we learnt and revised is what was in the exams.” – Samuel Kanhodo
“Computer skills are now a must in today’s environment.” – Local Clinic employee