Delft is leading the way into education through the internet.

Left: Premier Helen Zille and Pastor Charles George cut the ribbon to launch the Delft Mesh Wireless Network
Right: A group of graduates and facilitators at the centre celebrate their achievements with Premier Helen Zille.         Photo: Gary van Dyk

On Monday night the Zoe Academy of Skills hosted the graduation of some of the people who have completed their skills courses, but then they proudly announced their involvement in a new initiative that will have a positive effect on education in the area, that will spread to other disadvantaged areas.
Premier of theWestern Cape, Helen Zille, was on hand to launch the Delft Mesh Wireless Network to 20 schools providing free internet access to all learners at schools.
Ashley Paulse of the academy was very excited about this new initiative and pointed out that the deployment of internet connectivity to schools forms part of the province's Strategy Framework that enables learning environments.
"Just three months ago, this initiative was launched with the participation of all the schools in the Delft area," he says.
"The impact of this network will affect our learners in every aspect of their lives. At Zoe Academy we believe that we must be proactive and seek collaboration with like-minded individuals, organisations and governmental departments.
"We are glad that Premier Helen Zille was here to launch the project because she is passionate about education and technology and we believe that she will be the ideal candidate to champion this process."
This mesh network will be rolled out to other communities facing similar challenges in their learning environments over the next three years and will be linked to the fibre network being rolled out by the provincial government.
"The Delft Free Internet project proves that we can be as progressive as countries like Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco in delivering internet access to our communities in a sustainable manner," said Paulse.
Addressing the gathering, Zille was very excited to be supporting this new initiative, relating her personal experiences with realising the potential for use of the internet in education especially in disadvantaged communities.
"The internet and connectivity have become an integral part of life today, and I can't imagine whatwewould do without it," she said.
"A few years ago I was part of starting the Khanya project at schools, and this is another step in the right direction to improve education for learners.
"Now our dream is to have this type of broadband access for every school by 2014, and I am glad that Delft is once again at the forefront of this initiative.
"The launch of this project is in line with what we want to do at a provincial level because we want the knowledge of the world's libraries to be at the fingertips of not just the learners, but the teachers as well.
"I am always proud to be invited to this facility, and will always support your efforts to uplift members of the community.
"Over the years you have proved yourselves by `doing' and not just talking. The testimonies of some of your students here tonight proves it, and this new initiative is another step in a positive direction for learners in this community that will spread to other areas."
Started by the Home of Compassion ministries the Zoe Academy of Skills project was established in 2009 and was born out of sheer frustration after witnessing potential and brilliant students who completed matric being demotivated due to unforeseen challenges that scared them about their future.
Chairman Pastor Charles George explained that a very high percentage of them could not further their studies or find employment.
"There were very few jobs available for them fresh out of school, bursaries were hard to come by and they were not in a financial position to study further.
"After brainstorming, a vacant, derelict building was identified for the use of the skills centre here in Delft. Premier Helen Zille was very instrumental in securing the facility.
"The first enrolment of students took place in 2010 and a solution was presented that brought back hope for people in desperate need of making themselves employable, to receive jobs and start businesses."
George also added that the class of 2010 created such a buzz within the community that even some of their parents enrolled for the courses offered by the centre.
"Young people began to dream again steering them away from gangsterism, drugs and criminal activities.
"The reason why we are so excited and why we are celebrating is to witness another group of learners coming through this initiative. We are adding to the number of credits of our learners by providing a SAQAaccredited computer literacy course this year," he concluded.
For more information about activities at the centre call 021 955 2990 during office hours.

TygerBurger Ravensmead/Belhar, Wednesday 16 May 2012 - Gary van Dyk

Click here for more pictures of the launch and graduation