Kim Palmer, Director, On the Ball College.

Kim Palmer, Director, On the Ball College.

According to OTBC director, Kim Palmer, establishing non-profit facilities in the local communities provides learners with places to study that are closer to home.

"I've been in this industry for 12 years now and have seen how people in the suburbs are really struggling to come into the city because of transport issues. These challenges affect their learning. So it makes good sense to bring the college to them," says Palmer.

A typical non-profit college would receive external funding so that students can not only learn at the ICT-focused facility, but also receive a monthly stipend for transport and food included in their bursary. For those who can afford to pay something for their training, the college would offer courses at a drastically reduced rate, Palmer notes. The facility has just one classroom with room for 20 students, but Palmer is already looking to add two additional classrooms so the branch can accept at least 60 students early next year.

Palmer says the success of this type of non-profit educational establishment requires additional partners to invest in the venture.

Sam Phiri, senior project manager at youth employment engine Lulaway, explains why this kind of initiative is so important. "It's our job to connect people with employment opportunities, but we can't do so if they don't have the right skills, he noted. We have a lot of people who are looking for jobs, but they need additional training. Now, we can link them to the college to get the skills and then help them get a job when they're done," says Phiri.

A resident of Kraaifontein, a local community that's already the recipient of one such college, spoke about the opportunities that local residents will be afforded now that an IT college is in this area.

Anathi Mdungwana says: "These days if you are looking for a job, the first thing you need is computer skills. You need to be able to use computer software. I am a driver and I'm looking for something better. I have a matric. But I need computer skills to improve my opportunities."

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On The Ball College has opened its first NPO branch at Kraaifontein in Cape Town's northern suburbs.