Bridging the Digital Divide

The Centre for Popular Memory/Mellon Foundation Bridging the Digital Divide schools program, contributes towards 'bridging the divide' in education and IT skills transfer.

The program concentrates on the generational and cultural divisions between apartheid survivors and their descendants, and the IT skills divide between what is perceived to be a 'developing' country and first world technology. This project seeks to build strategic partnerships that will result in strengthening scholarly dissemination.

Bridging the Digital Divide is conducted in partnership with Western Cape Education Department (WCED), and ties into the educators' history year plan and programme of assessment, set out by the Department of Education (DOE). Grade 9 and 10 learners (ages 14-17) are taught how to conduct oral history interviews and how to transfer the audio stories to web based media. This project ensures that both learners and teachers gain digital technology skills, and at the same time, develop a deeper understanding of community, history and heritage. These community stories are hosted on the CPM server and are made available on the Internet, in libraries and the CPM digital archive.

Bridging the Digital Divide Project Highlights:

Over the three year period CPM has intensively trained 1426 learners through Bridging the Digital Divide; mentored 82 learners for the National Albert Luthuli Award; engaged and assisted 39 history educators in 7 districts and been directly involved with all 9 WCED curriculum advisers and the relevant Director Generals.

CPM explored and drew links to different learning areas and DOE initiatives. In 2009 the CPM received two separate awards from the DOE, in recognition of the groundbreaking work being done by the Digital Divide project.

Strong interpersonal relationships developed between educators in the schools where Bridging the Digital Divide was implemented and curriculum advisors in the districts. CPM project manager Nuraan Allie was invited as a keynote speaker to address educators at the West Coast Symposium and again to run a two-day workshop for educators from the South District.

Educators indicated that learners displayed signs of positive growth as well as positive shifts in results. For instance, Muizenberg High noted that learners history achievement had improved by 40% after the CPM had rolled out Digital Divide in that school.

Slower learners were motivated through the Bridging the Digital Divide Project. Many schools confirmed an improvement in analytical thinking after the CPM project.

CPM worked in a cross section of schools, but mainly worked in disadvantaged under resources schools where Bridging the Digital Divide could provide the educator and learners with practical learning and support.