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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

e-Pioneer Lulu Nongogo says she does it for the kids

Nongogo’s NPO Lulwazi Lwethu launched the first digital interactive whiteboards in the rural community of Het Kruis to grand success.

There is no such a thing as the fear of the unknown for this woman, who is driven by a strong passion for working with poor communities, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Taking the bull by the horns is a way of life for the Cape Town-based Lulu Nongogo, who has become what is believed to be the first female and black person in the country to distribute and operate technology-driven digital interactive whiteboards, a concept initiated by government for teaching at schools countrywide.

“It was my curiosity that attracted me to this project. I like a challenge. When I saw it when it was first launched in the Western Cape, I told myself that I can do it and I went for it,” Nongogo said.

Nongogo’s  Nonprofit Organisation (NPO), Lulwazi Lwethu, launched the first digital interactive whiteboards in the rural community of Het Kruis in March, at Karookop primary school in the Bergrivier Municipality in the Western Cape.

The event was attended by Bergrivier municipality executive mayor Evert Manuel, department of education district director Rachel Slinger, sponsor Nedbank Foundation representative Joshua Pule and Karookop primary principal Henk Brown.

“An interactive board is like a textbook, but in a digital form. It is designed in the form of a very big smart phone. Children write the topics they want to study or research on the board and everything else just follows at the touch of a screen,” Nongogo said in an interview with Saturday Citizen.

The board has the element of a computer search engine, but with a lot of school-oriented functions embedded. The entire school syllabus gets put in the system in the form of apps.

The initiative has received support from the department of basic education, as well as the Bergrivier municipality, including a sponsorship by Nedbank.

Working under her NPO, Nongogo hopes that the initiative will not only assist teachers with an alternative to “the chalk and board” method of teaching, but encourage pupils to excel academically.

“We replace chalk boards with interactive whiteboards and introduce teachers and pupils to e-learning,” Nongogo said.

Lulwazi Lwethu plans to roll out the boards nationwide later in 2017.

“I saw a gap to empower the unemployed and create employment for the youth in the previously disadvantaged communities in the rural and urban areas. I decided to start this project in the rural primary schools,” Nongogo said.

She approached Nedbank, which agreed to sponsor her with an amount of R600 000 to pay for the cost of the materials. Nongogo partnered with the Western Cape education department, the government communications and information services and local media to ensure the project took off.

She had already piloted the project for pupils doing Grades R to 7 at five primary schools of between 550 and 1 000 pupils since January. The schools, which struggled for text books and stationery previously, are Nuwefontein Primary School, Lambertsbaai, Hexrivier NGK, Steenberg’s Cove, Welgemeend, Rustasie and Middelvlei.

“We are changing lives for the best in the rural schools of the Western Cape. We want to get the best pass rate in the country,” Nongogo said.

The interactive boards are not limited to schools. The community can use them for research and learning.

“The schools and principals are very happy, the kids are excited and teachers find it very easy to operate because the board is interactive.”

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