Remembering
Mr Mandela

Equipping children with skills to cope

“Part of the Madiba legacy is children who are free in mind and spirit. Children who are free to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve in life.’
– Jil Hrdliczka

“The style of teaching at Knowledge Network is like nothing we have ever experienced in South Africa, all the courses are project-based, first they show you how to do it and then you go and create your own project. They encourage you to work at your own pace and figure things out for yourself.” Greg Wilson 2000, Krugersdorp High School (Knowledge Network In-School Diploma Programme)

When Madiba was in the 2nd year of his presidency, Arnold Ramasedi registered his young son Kamohelo at Knowledge Network. Kamohelo started doing electronic research for school and learning how to make technology
work for him. “It all started in 1996. My father saw an ad about a computer school,” says Kamohelo. Arnold had just bought a computer and did not know how best to teach his son the basics of using the machine. The ad read ‘Computer courses for adults and kids from the age of 4’. Arnold enrolled Kamohelo, who was then aged eleven. At Knowledge Network knowledge knows no age.

Work by: Paul , Rivonia | Yonela, Mthatha | Michael, Port Elizabeth | Kuvania, Ballito

“Well, at first the idea of attending a weekend school came as a shocker. I wasn’t eager to attend and wanted to rest and play with my friends,” says Kamohelo. “But it came as yet another shock to find myself awaiting the weekend to come as I went to an environment I regarded as fun and my thirst for knowledge grew. It didn’t matter much to me that I would travel from Soweto to Rivonia every weekend.”

“Racial integration was still in its development stages and Kamohelo, a young black kid from Soweto, was attending a predominately white institution but felt at home due to the hospitality of K-Net’s staff members and the ILAMM (integrated learning and mentoring methodology) designed by Jill D Hrdlickza in 1994, which made it easier for Kamohelo to grasp the basic understanding of computers. It increased his versatility using computers – he was able to operate both Windows-based and Apple computers effortlessly, a skill that he will use for the rest of his life,” says Arnold.

“Through the integrated teaching techniques, I was equipped with a variety of skills such as utilising MS Office. It also helped me to confidently use the computer for school projects. I became known as somewhat of a computer boffin as I was a more advanced computer user than most of my colleagues,” says Kamohelo. “The presentation and research skills gave me an added advantage at acquiring the information through the usage of not only the web but digital encyclopaedias. I was therefore better positioned to acquire relevant information.

It changed my mindset and gave me the confidence to do my work to the best of my ability.” At age 11 that is quite something. “Kamohelo was a kid with a strong will to learn and be part of what technology had to offer. He had huge potential, was a good thinker for programming in Visual Basic and completed courses such as TechnoBlast, TechnoCruise and others. Kamohelo was fun to work with, he has a great sense of humour,” says Jill Hrdliczka. “His father was totally committed to and involved in his son’s learning and attended many of the seminars that we ran for the kids.”

The conferences covered a range of topics including movie making, video editing, morphing, programming, graphics, the Internet, hardware and software, music, spreadsheeting, DTP, digital photography and sound. The conferences were described by the kids as “way cool or megacool”. The conference crew members were kids, as were some of the speakers, presenters, organisers and admin staff. No doubt about it – the conferences were fun. The first conference in 1995 was described as the first of its kind in the world. “The conferences and seminars were great, not only were the presentations by the mentors great and interactive, but I won a computer from Conference 1996 and appeared in several newspapers, which did wonders for my popularity. All I can say is that I’m grateful to both my parents and Knowledge Network for giving me an added advantage in today’s digital world,” says Kamohelo.

Kamohelo is now 24. He went on to study business management and is now in partnership, with amongst other people, his father, and together they are conceptualiasing an education management system to use technology to better the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Through Knowledge Network, Kamohelo has been equipped with the skills to cope with today and the future – a technology-driven world where information is accessible through the Internet, where all forms of digital communication (including cell phone sms, mms) unites families and friends around the world, and where being able to use a computer as a tool for life and learning means having the ability to earn, to learn, to achieve and to develop oneself.

The Knowledge Network success stories are many. There is Kamohelo. And Paul, who completed all the courses offered by Knowledge Network, who at the age of 12, became a NetAssist to help other kids, a Club Leader, and
member of the Knowledge Network mini business. Today Paul is 25, has a B.Com Marketing Management, an Advanced Diploma in Project Management and runs his own events company in the entertainment industry.

Both Kamohelo and Paul are well on their way to achieving their goals in life and are having
fun. And then there’s Greg, and another Greg, Tarryn, Eric, Zandi and…. Mr Mandela, from the Knowledge Network
kids, teenagers, adults, educators, staff and staff of those schools working with Knowledge Network, we wish you a Happy Birthday.

Leadership Magazine - June 2008
with personal birthday tributes from around the world

Zandi  – July 2008

Zandi said of her experience that she was very proud to be part of the function and described the opportunity as once in a lifetime. Zandi teaches computer literacy using the Knowledge Network IT Learning System Progressive Learning Programme at St Joseph’s J.S.S. School in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday with his friends and colleagues at an elaborate party at his house in Qunu (about 20 km from Mthatha) on Saturday, 19 July 2008. Zandiswa Mpafa, a member of John Wesley Methodist Church 11 o’clock Society Choir performed at the function. Mandla, Madiba’s grandson, also a member of the church, invited the choir to sing for Madiba.

International and local icons, as well as the press CNN International, SABC and Top Billing were present to celebrate with Madiba. Those who spoke at the elegant function, described as an outstanding success, included Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Kenneth Kaunda, Mandla Mandela, Bishop D D Dabula, Rev M Mpumlwana and Rev Mehana.  The director of the function was Bantu Holomisa and the vote of thanks by Judge Sangoni.

Graça Machel’s daughter also spoke beautifully about their lives and family. Report by Zandiswa Mpafa (20 July 2008)

Zandi said of her experience that she was very proud to be part of the function and described the opportunity as once in a lifetime. Zandi teaches computer literacy using the Knowledge Network IT Learning System Progressive Learning Programme at St Joseph’s J.S.S. School in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

The Leadership Magazine June 2008 Edition included Zandi in the Knowledge Network birthday tribute to Mr Nelson Mandela – Equipping kids with the skills to cope. Zandi said that she was so excited to see people at the function with the Leadership Magazine knowing that she was also included with other educators in the birthday tribute from Knowledge Network.

Zandi was born in Willowvale, one of the small towns in the Eastern Cape Province. In 1996, when Madiba was in the 2nd year of his presidency, Zandi was in the 2nd year of her Teachers’ Diploma. She never thought for a moment that in 2008 she would be performing at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday function and would be included in a birthday tribute in the Leadership Magazine.

“My story started at St Joseph’s J.S.S. in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. I’m a qualified educator who has an experience of about 8 years in the teaching profession.”

“Students at St Joseph’s were not taught computers for about 2 years after a computer teacher left the school. The School Governing Body (SGB) approached me to teach computers for the benefit of the learners. I had no confidence in teaching computers because I was not well conversant with the latest changes in the field of technology. I went for a week training at Knowledge Network Centre in Johannesburg. We were a group of 5 teachers from Port Elizabeth, Durban, Mthatha and Johannesburg. The first level training (ILAMM) was conducted by Jil and we found it quite easy to follow.”

“Our training began at 9h00 up till 16h00 with breakfast at 10h00 and lunch at 13h00, Jil offered the meals. One evening Jil decided to take us out for supper at Monte Casino. Wow! It was a fantastic evening, we really enjoyed ourselves. It has a casino, a lot of restaurants and many clothing shops. People come from different parts of the country to visit the place. Most tourists from around the world find it exciting too. For all of us it was the first time to visit the place. We also had a precious time to even get to know each other better sharing our different cultural backgrounds, families, finances, advising each other about life in general. We really had a wonderful time.”

“We had an obligation to go back and implement the acquired knowledge. When I started with the learners at the school they showed a lot of enthusiasm. The school arrangement was to begin with Grade 7,8, & 9 to prepare them for high school. Since numbers are too big in classes in government schools especially in the Eastern Cape Province, I decided to divide them into groups. Some thought that computers are very difficult and the majority of them were quite slow. Knowledge Network emphasizes development of IT skills, life skills, creative thinking, lateral thinking and problem solving ability.”

“Later on, I was approached to teach Knowledge Network for a Saturday School. I started from nothing to make things possible. I had to advertise the programme to schools around Mthatha. Learners attend classes from 9h00 to 10h00 every Saturday. I have Grade 4,5,6 and 8 learners. Parents and learners are very interested in doing computers. I managed to complete 10 sessions before the schools closed for the second term. Learners were very worried since it was their first time to write exams for computers. They were surprised and very excited to see that they had passed with good marks. The highest mark was 90%. They could not wait to see the computer marks in their June reports to show to their parents.”

The learners at St Joseph’s achieved good results for their first report mark with a new educator after a 2-year break in the implementation of the Knowledge Network IT Learning System Progressive Learning Programme. 70 learners achieved between 60 and 69%, which, in government terms, is a rating of 5 Substantial Achievement. 84 learners achieved between 70 and 79, a rating of Meritorious Achievement, and 53 learners achieved between 80 and 100%, which is a rating of Outstanding Achievement. In order for learners to qualify for a Knowledge Network Certificate for the level being completed, they need to achieve 70% or more in the Year-End Assessment.

“Computer periods take only 50 minutes which is not enough comparing their (the learners) work pace in the beginning; however learners decided to use their flexi time and sometimes an extra hour after school.”

“It has not always been easy to master certain projects on my own. In this regard, Knowledge Network assists me all the time without any fuss. If Jil is busy I definitely know that the Knowledge Network staff will always be there for me. If I leave a message Jil will return my call and we discuss the matter telephonically.”

“I was so grateful to meet a wonderful person like Jil and to deal with such a supportive company. Knowledge Network has improved my computer skills and has built my confidence to work with computers. I am still looking forward to learn more.”

“To educators who might perhaps be interested in the world of computers I can say the programme is just fun, easy to follow and not much paperwork, instead less preparation, as long as you give enough time to practice your sessions.” (And attend Session Training.)

“Learners need to know how to use a computer because computers have widely become the primary necessity in most businesses and institutions to function effectively. Therefore, for learners to stand a better chance of employment when they finish school they need to have computer skills and be computer literate.”

“Learners develop a wide range of IT skills through Knowledge Network. Knowledge Network gives learners the opportunity to research on the Internet in order to expand their knowledge not only in the field of technology but in other life subjects as well. This programme builds confidence and provides opportunities for learners to develop small businesses of their own.” Zandi, 2008

Eric – Jul 2008

“I did a learning methodology course with Knowledge Network and what we did was project-based and not skills-based education. I had the privilege to be taught by Jill Hrdliczka, she has been fantastic in her method of tutoring, kind, patient and she loves what she is doing so I had the liberty to ask whenever I did not understand. With this kind of education, I have seen young people in my class grow in confidence and competency. One of my students got a job as an agent for British Airways. And that is only a highlight of what this programme is doing in the lives of the young in Alexandra Township and also in my life,” says Eric. While this may not sound like much, it means a lot to those in Alexandra where life can sometimes be quite difficult.

“You can help us to help ourselves”

Eric’s job is to ensure that every student in his class understands how to use a computer as a tool. Eric’s students missed out on the opportunity to learn how to use computers at school and who, after leaving school, found themselves in unknown territory – the digital world – driven by emails, databases, online fill-in forms, presentations, web sites, cell phones as modems and cameras, electronic budgets, documents and electronic communication. Eric’s students are not unique – they are in the same boat as thousands of other kids from around the world. Except that Eric’s students are now equipped with the skills they need.

“I did a learning methodology course with Knowledge Network and what we did was project-based and not skills-based education. I had the privilege to be taught by Jill Hrdliczka, she has been fantastic in her method of tutoring, kind, patient and she loves what she is doing so I had the liberty to ask whenever I did not understand. With this kind of education, I have seen young people in my class grow in confidence and competency. One of my students got a job as an agent for British Airways. And that is only a highlight of what this programme is doing in the lives of the young in Alexandra Township and also in my life,” says Eric. While this may not sound like much, it means a lot to those in Alexandra where life can sometimes be quite difficult.

ILAMM, a learning methodology developed by Jill D Hrdliczka in 1994 for learning involving information technology, makes it easier for students to learn how to use a computer as a tool and how to apply their knowledge. Eric was sent to Knowledge Network by Ikemeleng Youth Centre to be developed as an educator. He has achieved a 100% pass rate from the students in some of his courses, which is a huge achievement for any educator.

I would like to say thank you to Scripture Union Ikemeleng for seeing it fit for me to go and do a course with Knowledge Network and I will like to send my gratitude to the staff at Knowledge Network for their outstanding work and Jill for assisting me on these points:

  • self-awareness
  • improving own learning
  • performance review and evaluation
  • communication
  • and working with others

“I do hope that people of the Republic of South Africa will be motivated by this story and that they too will take their banner and raise it high so that our country can be a better place to live in.”

“With extra funding for this programme per year, we can achieve outstanding results and can change both our own lives and the lives of others. You can help us to help ourselves.”  Eric, 2008

Greg – 2000

The future looks good

I have just signed a contract with an American Company, they are going to distribute one of the products I designed and created called PortMan. It is a portfolio tracking system for Financial Advisors. I am hoping the product will be very successful as it can be easily adapted for any business at a more than great price. You can check out my almost finished web site for more details of the services my business offers and the web sites I have created. http://www.webconnection.co.za.

“I have been a Knet (now Knowledge Network) student for a very long time hmm, must have been since Std 4.

I have done numerous courses including: Microsoft office, Technocruise, CorelDraw, VB and my most recent, the Web development diploma.

All the courses are really great at Knowledge Network, it is always so hard to decide which one to do next.

I completed my Web Dip last year together with my Matric. Some people would say I was mad ‘Matric and a Diploma at the same time?’

However I didn’t think so, the style of teaching and the very competent mentors “Hi Gerry :-)” make it so easy and enjoyable there is no extra strain or stress involved.

Opportunities

Knowledge Network has created great opportunities in my life. I have been running my own business for the last 4 Years. Up until I had finished my Web Diploma I had only been building PC’s and creating small networks.

By doing the Web Diploma I have been able to expand my business into other parts of the computing world. I immediately started getting web pages to do, I find designing web pages fulfilling and really fun to do.

Another great point of web page development is the profit margins. They are much higher than any other field of computing I have attempted.

Educating the youth

Knowledge Network is making great moves in educating the youth, they are moving into hundreds of schools where their courses are being taught.

I was lucky enough to be in one of the first schools to take part in this – Krugersdorp High School.

The style of teaching at Knowledge Network is like nothing we have ever experienced in South Africa, all the courses are project-based, first they show you how to do it and then you go and create your own project. They encourage you to work at your own pace and figure things out for yourself.

The future looks good

I have just signed a contract with an American Company, they are going to distribute one of the products I designed and created called PortMan.

It is a portfolio tracking system for Financial Advisors. I am hoping the product will be very successful as it can be easily adapted for any business at a more than great price. You can check out my almost finished web site for more details of the services my business offers and the web sites I have created. http://www.webconnection.co.za.

WEB CONNECTION doesn’t that sound familiar, it should, it was owned by a company which has now changed ownership. In the commotion of their buyout I bought the name for a steal. So that is how my company became Web Connection.” Greg, 2000

 

Anitah Nanzile – 2006

From cleaner to admin support, from customer care manager to director of operations, from educator to international representative, from educator to graphics designer – for all the wonderful women who are part of the Knowledge Network team and who learn through Knowledge Network, there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Who would have thought that a cleaner could become an administrative support person reporting to a director? Or become a homeowner and successful single parent? Or wake up one day at 4am to catch a SAA flight to Port Elizabeth to represent a company in meetings?

This is a success story about Anitah Nanzile Ncube who arrived in Johannesburg, jobless, but full of hope and dreams. Her story inspires other people, helps single parent families overcome difficulties and reminded us that it is not the job you do that determines who you are in life.

“I came to Johannesburg to look for a job and was lucky enough to find one as a cleaner for a director and shareholder of a leading educational institution. Her name is Jil Hrdliczka and she is still my boss today, except that I am the now the administration support person to the director of operations, and she is managing director of her company.”

“When I worked for Jil as a cleaner, in our spare time, we used to sit down and chat about life, our future and our dreams. I always told her that I wanted to be a clerk. She told me that she wanted to open her own company and when she did, she would teach me typing, how to use a computer, and how to do admin work. At the time, I did not believe what I heard, it was like a dream come true for me, I was overjoyed with the news I had heard.”

“Four years later, in 1994, Jil opened her own company now called Knowledge Network. Her aim was to teach children about computers and how to use them. She did not care whether they had knowledge of computers or not. Every child was welcome.” Today, many of the courses that were run at Knowledge Network in 1994 and 1995 are run in schools. Educators are trained in a unique learning methodology developed by Jil and are trained to present sessions to the learners in their classes or in computer literacy classes. 

“I started working part-time – she taught me how to type, and do the photocopying. It was not easy for me but bit-by-bit I started to cope. I also started to do filing, and to type newsletters for the kids. These newsletters were sent to different places across South Africa. Although it was tough, I met all the deadlines.”

“I think she saw I had ability and a high level of interest in my work. She then trained me to do frontline work, to invoice clients, handle customer queries, sales and express myself when dealing with customers. I also learned how to mentor children aged 3 and 4.” At that time (1994), Knowledge Network offered courses and holiday programmes for kids and teenagers. State-of-the-art technology was used, including Apple computers for graphics and video editing, as well as Windows-based PCs, electronic encyclopaedias, Corel and Microsoft software products, and the Internet.

“I also started handling registration of adults and children, did data capturing which is considered to be a very important task at Knowledge Network, and printing of certificates for learners who achieved 70% and more in their year-end assessments.” Learners from Grade 04 to Grade 12 can complete Knowledge Network year-end assessments for their grade/level.

“I am now working for the Director of Operations of Knowledge Network. My job is varied, challenging, demanding and requires good time management, planning, IT, coping, and communication skills. I also support the educators who are involved in the programme, providing them with information about their training, their assessments, and sometimes I get the opportunity to travel to other cities to meet them.” Nanzile’s first airplane flight and walk on the beach took place during a trip to meet the educators she supports.

“I thank Jil for transforming my life and helping me to fulfil my dreams. Jil is not a boss to me, she is like family, she is everything to me.”

There are no limits for Nanzile, except those she herself sets. “Next step for her is a driver’s licence, to buy her own car, to travel to schools to support the director of operations, and to support those who are now starting to learn how to make computers work for them,” says Jil Hrdliczka, Managing Director of Knowledge Network.