Telecentre curriculum mash up

September 3, 2005 § Leave a comment

Tembisa, South Africa

Radebe Thabiso has community based technology training on his brain. So, he was exactly the right person to talk to on my one day back in South Africa.


Thabiso runs a telecentre in Tembisa, a township on the edge of Johannesburg. Supported by both the Universal Service Agency and the Microsoft Digital Villages program, the Tembisa centre offers courses in everything from computer basics to office software to web publishing. According to Thabiso, courses are always full, and enough money comes in the door to pay an honorarium to three young trainers. (Thabiso doesn’t draw a salary himself. He is a volunteer.)

Given the emphasis on basic training and accreditation at our Cape Town meeting, the questions on my mind were: What curriculum to training-focused telecentres in South Africa need? What do they use? What’s still needed?

It turns out that the Tembisa centre uses both the Wits InfoLit course and the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Curriculum. “But don’t these two pieces of curriculum compete?” I asked. Thabiso claimed not. In fact, he argued that they were complimentary, giving his trainers materials for both a basic foundation course and more advanced courses on individual applications. He also said they mix and match from both. It’s like a curriculum mash up.


Hearing this gave me a huge sense of relief, the kind of feeling that comes when the obvious things you can’t see are revealed to you (which was exactly what had happened). I’d been worried that doing a curriculum and accreditation initiative with South African telecentres would mean deciding on THE curriculum to use. Thabiso reminded me of something that I know from my years as an Internet trainer: curriculum is just the starting point from which a trainer gets creative. Having a mix of curriculum tools to draw on is actually a good thing.

So, thanks to Thabiso for helping me (and Meddie) to this insight. Hopefully, it can help us focus the work we do supporting telecentre trainers in South Africa.

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