Dell, together with the Springboks, has launched the first of its Boks for Books initiatives, at its solar learning lab in Soweto.
The partnership entails Dell EMC and Springboks joining forces to empower the learners at Emdeni Secondary School with the technology they need to succeed in today’s data and IT driven economy. Furthermore, Boks for Books encourages and enables increased literacy, by giving learners access to a library of online books, accessible from the ten computers within the Dell solar learning lab. This is a solar powered computer centre, housed in a shipping container, located in various schools and premises that are made available to a community.
Commenting on the partnership, Doug Woolley, the General Manager of Dell EMC in South Africa, explained that the company is proud to associate itself with select non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as the spirit of Dell EMC and its founder Michael Dell, is built on developing human potential. “A core component of that is technology, which is one of the easiest enablers of fulfilling human potential that we have in the world today,” he explained.
“We talk about where business is going and the fourth industrial revolution, which is around building economies that are information based. Gone are the days of resource, agrarian and farming economies, it's all about technology driving business and business change,” he elaborated.
The future of technology
Woolley added that the key to this shift is the youth, noting that several of the most influential start-ups were conceived by students, from Facebook and AirBNB, to Uber and Google.
“Our investment in the youth is largely driven around innovation and the dreams that young people have, where there is no fear of failure. We believe that the next economy, the fourth industrial revolution, is built on the youth,” he added.
Natasha Reuben, the Head of Transformation at Dell South Africa, added that in lieu of Women’s Month, a particular emphasis was placed on encouraging more girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career paths.
“The early childhood years have long been accepted as the most critical point in a child’s development. Exploring is inherent in their learning and it’s during these years that we should expose them to STEM and help ignite a lifelong passion.” she continued.
Reuben enthused that progress is being made on that front, with technology being adapted into early child development as well. This is essential when one takes into account the accelerated pace that technology is expanding. “Broadening access to high quality STEM curriculums is fundamental to starting our children on the right path. We need to ensure a holistic development of the younger generation wherein they become makers of tech not just consumers of it,” she stressed.
Empowered women empower women
She continued that women who succeed in the technology field need to pave the way for the next generation, particularly with regards to empowering young girls to pursue a career in technology and more specifically taking the time to invest into them with meaningful coaching and mentoring.
Woolley and Reuben both agreed that technology levels the playing field for girls and boys alike, giving them access to markets they otherwise would never have had.
Particularly top of mind for Dell EMC is fostering a pathway for the next generation to use the likes of high performance computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning to tackle more significant concerns. These can range from how to use technology to predict earthquakes more accurately, to finding a cure for cancer.
The world is their oyster
Addressing students at Emdeni Secondary School, Woolley encouraged: “You're not constrained by where you come from or what you own. As long as you have the determination and put in time and effort around your studies, especially those three core components of maths, science and technology you can create the next billion-dollar company, or change the world.”
The President of South African Rugby Union, (SARU), Mark Alexander, added that in the Boks for Books campaign with Dell EMC, great care was taken to choose schools that have a real need as well as being functional. This was to ensure that the resources would be used effectively.
Both he and Springbok, Lood de Jager, stressed the importance of literacy to succeeding in life. Key to this is connecting technology with those who need it most, which is why SARU partnered with Dell EMC, explained Alexander.
“We believe having access to online books will open a whole new world to this school, and go a long way to improving literacy in the community,” he enthused.
The collaboration may be the first, but both organisations assured that it would certainly not be the last. The initiative is set to be rolled out to other Dell solar labs throughout South Africa.