Despite Manenberg’s bleak social and economic conditions, one woman is determined to make the local library a place of learning and skills sharing. Yumna Alexander, a second-year student at the Two Oceans Graduate Institution (TOGI) said she wants to help people do well for themselves and to prosper. Through the knowledge of computers, she aims to uplift the community she is proud of.
“I like sharing whether it is knowledge, whether it is any type of information that I feel that someone needs to know, that is what I’m about.”
Without wi-fi at her home, Alexander must make use of the library computers. Whilst submitting her assignments she noticed that many of the computer users did not know how to use the programs nor the Internet.
“People have to apply online for jobs. There’s no more ‘come and drop your CV’…People don’t know how to find their way. A lot of them don’t know how to even get onto the Internet. How to go to the next thing, how to apply for a post, how to send an email. They don’t have an email address.”
Alexander’s course at TOGI includes an Information and Communications Technology module that teaches her basic and intermediate computer skills. After approaching the library staff, she opened her computer courses to the public, using all that she learned in her module to aid in her teaching.
“I’ve used all that material and I’ve given back to my community. If I could do that with all six of my modules, I would, but I’d probably have to open up my own university.”
Using the library’s six computers, Alexander is only able to teach 12 students per course – six on a Monday and Wednesday, another six on Tuesday and Thursday. The three-week course includes an introduction to the world of computers – the differences between a laptop and desktop, cybersecurity, use of primary Microsoft Office programmes and use of an email account. She added that with the support from Smart Cape, her students are taught intermediate and advanced computer skills in the last few days of the course.
“I don’t want people just to know basic things. I want them to know how to do a lot of things. And things that I know they’re going to need…”
She said that she does not like the word ‘basic’.
“If I know that the whole of Manenberg, by the end of 2020, can send an email and attach a document – then I will be so happy!”
Due to limited spaces, people are urged to book their spots. Alexander gleefully said that she is fully booked for the whole of September and October and would not be surprised if spaces were taken for November too.
“Without the people in the library, the librarians and the senior librarian, Lisa – without them I don’t think it would’ve been possible, because they’ve been very hands-on…”
Her classes are from 9am-11am and are open to people of all ages.
“Help whoever you can. You never know, you might be the only one that is helping. And if you do the right things, the right things will follow you.”