Dell has announced the opening of its ninth solar-powered Learning Lab in South Africa at Waverley Girls’ High. The opening of the solar-powered Learning Lab at Waverley Girls’ High will provide world-class technology and connectivity to hundreds of girls from underserviced communities in Alexandria and Hillbrow.
Part of Dell’s 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, which aims to put its technology and expertise to work where it can do the most good for people and the planet, Dell solar-powered Learning Labs provide direct technology access to more than 5,000 underprivileged students in communities where technology infrastructure is limited. This specific partnership at Waverley Girls’ High is just one of the projects Dell and Sci-Bono have collaborated on. Not only does this school struggle to compete and offer the same facilities as surrounding private schools, but it continues to strive to encourage and prepare girls to enter the IT industry.
One of 11 labs globally, the Learning Labs are constructed inside standard shipping containers, using Dell’s Wyse thin client computers and Dell PowerEdge Servers to create a computer-empowered learning space. Solar panels take care of power requirements, while the computers use cloud technologies to run the latest Windows Office systems. The setup is also highly efficient, with each workstation requiring less than seven Watts of power, as opposed to 180 Watts for a typical PC.
“Providing world-class education is an ongoing challenge across the developing world, including Africa, South America and Asia. The stakes are too high – education is too important – which is why Dell takes this challenge very seriously,” says Natasha Reuben, Head of Transformation at Dell South Africa.
“Giving back to the communities it calls home has always been core to Dell’s value system. We believe that access to education and technology is not a luxury, but a necessity.”
Driven by these values, Dell started the Learning Labs project, which combines the best of new technologies with practical ideas to deliver classrooms where they’re needed most.
This all ties into Dell’s Future Ready campaign: technologies are rapidly changing the world and future generations need to be ready for that. By combining cutting-edge innovation, including virtual desktops and software, with contemporary classroom demands, Learning Labs enables learners and teachers to understand that future on their terms.
“Dell developed solar-powered Learning Labs through a pilot phase in Nigeria in 2013. It has shaped up so well that there are now ten similar sites in Africa, as well as a new site in Colombia. The concept works brilliantly. Instead of throwing technology at teachers and students, we looked at how to solve their problems. Learning Labs offers a classroom supported by new technologies and is entirely self-sustaining. It adapts the digital world for them, not the other way around,” Reuben says.
“Youth empowerment has always been a major focus for Dell. In keeping with youth month, Dell has embarked on a coaching and mentoring initiative, the Sci-Bono Youth Development Programme, which will see Dell employees share their knowledge and expertise with students,” she adds.
The initiative gives presentations on talent acquisition to students, including guidance on how to better market themselves in the job market. Dell employees host mock interview sessions with each student to give them hands-on experience. The company has a lot of faith in this approached, says Reuben, as similar past projects have led to the permanent hiring by Dell of several project students.
The future of education is not for technology to lead it by the nose, but rather to empower it. If Dell’s Learning Labs are a vision of the future, education’s tomorrow looks a lot brighter.