A passion for coding, information and communication technology (ICT), and education propelled law graduate Justice Ngobeni to launch a platform to help high school learners catch up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Not only does he provide classes on regular subjects, but he also offers lessons on coding and robotics, which are skills he considers necessary for the 4IR.
Ngobeni, who is from Mpumalanga but is currently based in Tshwane, launched the Thuto Pele Centre (TPC) last year.
The website is an online learning centre that offers classes for grades 10, 11 and 12.
The 25-year-old, who has a diploma in law and is currently pursuing his LLB, told Vutivi News that his love for coding was profound.
“Even though I am pursuing a degree in law, I am very passionate about coding and ICT,” he said.
The centre’s services comprise coding and robotics courses, computer literacy skills and extra classes in subjects like mathematics and maths literacy, economics, geography…, accounting, business studies, life sciences, physical sciences and English.
“Thuto Pele Centre is a unique programme that uses ICT tutoring and mentoring to improve learners’ academic achievements, aiming at nurturing learners’ self-esteem.
“TPC is concerned with the growth of learners’ intellectual, emotional, social, physical and creative potential. We have five experienced and specialist teachers in the fields. For example, we have a teacher that specialises in Mathematics Paper One and another one that specialises in Mathematics Paper Two,” he said.
According to Ngobeni, starting out was difficult and he had to overcome many challenges, including financing in the beginning.
“The website was developed, but having to put it live was a challenge because we did not have the finance. Another challenge was having to convince the parents of learners that our services are what their children need,” he said.
“Getting approval from the Department of Education was also a challenge.”
However, thanks to the support of his team and key stakeholders, the centre has been a success.
Innovation Hub helped them with a business concept and provided mentorship, Ngobeni said. It also approved a grant which enabled the centre to launch the website and make it live.
They were also greatly assisted by Cav’Economics from the Goethe Institute, which mentored the team on how to be successful.
Ngobeni also said that he initially had no budget as an employer, but his team sacrificed their salaries so that the platform was successful.
“Initially we had 50 learners across the province and when parents saw the need for the platform in their children’s lives they started coming in droves.
“They wanted their children to be equipped with the necessary computer skills so that online learning does not overwhelm them when they reach a tertiary level,” he said.
Ngobeni said that programmes like this were crucial for secondary school pupils, whose learning had been severely disrupted by COVID-19.
“Thuto Pele Centre ensures that they can catch up and get content online. It is also very crucial for learners to have an awareness of computer skills and computer components,” he said.
Ngobeni’s dream is that his ICT and robotics classes will someday impart the skills needed to create jobs.
“During the first industrial revolution there was the fear that many jobs would be lost, and the fear is also prevalent now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.
“This platform aims to address those by teaching learners’ skills that can enable them to invent something, thereby saving many jobs instead of causing great job loss.”