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Township grannies learn to master technology


Navigating new technologies and digital applications has become necessary for many people trying to access government help and services during the Covid pandemic. But for many older people, it’s not easy.

the go go go go project in Alexandra in Johannesburg is teaching a group of older people in the township to be more tech-savvy.

Pensioner Joyce Cindi said she learned how to communicate with teachers during the Covid lockdown through an app used by her granddaughter’s school. Cindi is the teenager’s legal guardian.

“Before starting classes, I didn’t know how the app worked and I was missing important notices from the school. Now I can log in, check reviews and even track my granddaughter’s homework,” she said.

People attending classes told GroundUp that after classes they were less dependent on others to help them with smartphones and the internet.

“I have surprised a lot of people since I started these courses. When friends and I got lost at a funeral, I was able to use the navigation app on my phone to help us find our way. My friends didn’t believe it,” said Florence Nawa.

Twice a week, the group attends classes at the Itlhokomeleng Association for the Elderly and Disabled. Many women who take technical courses also collect food parcels from the association. In most cases, they are the sole breadwinners of their families and raise their grandchildren on their old age allowance.

During class, they learn the basics of using the internet, email, and some commonly used social media applications.

The project was started by Jane Simmonds in 2020. The aim is to primarily support and empower older women, who are the primary caregivers in their families. living in townships and rural communities across the country.

In addition to technology classes, goGOGOgo also runs several health promotion and education projects for women.

Florence Nawa (left) and Dudu Machethe (right) learn to use and navigate an email application with guidance from project facilitator Siyasanga Mtayi. (center).

Simmonds said part of their lessons focus on internet safety and she hopes the women will share those lessons with their grandchildren back home.

According to host Siyasanga Mtayi, they started in May 2021 after establishing exactly what older people wanted to know about the internet and smartphones. They are currently finishing their classes with a second group of women who are expected to graduate on Thursday, she said.

“At first, the suckers got angry when the screens of the tablets they were using went black, thinking it had turned off. But they know they have to press a button on the side to unlock it and they do it on their own now,” she said.

Bradley Chauke, another host, said interest in the lessons of other Alexandra seniors has grown. “We had to divide the first cohort into two groups. We had more gogos who came to tell us that they would like to participate in the classes. They are really interested in learning more about the technology,” he said.

Simmonds said the project needed funding to grow. At least 15 tablets were donated by service provider Cell C for the classes.

“We want to expand the project by teaching gogos in different parts of the country. We’d like to give everyone a tablet and some data to take home when they graduate. The tablet can become an asset for them and their grandchildren to use in the household,” she said.

She said the public can help by adding goGOGOgo as a My school Beneficiary.

© 2022 GroundUp. This article was first published here.