University of Pretoria and UNESCO partner in an Information Literacy training initiative at Zithobeni

Posted on May 13, 2010

To support the school and community, the Department of Informatics and the Department of Information Science will, in line with the vision of the University, empower the teachers firstly, in basic Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy and then in Information literacy skills. The two courses, certified by Continuing Education at University of Pretoria ( will take place over eight Saturdays, at the University’s Mamelodi facilities.

Kgoro School has an enrolment of 1215 pupils, 27 teachers, and 8 administrative staff. The Zithobeni community are disadvantaged in terms of social and economic life. Most people stay in informal settlements and are mostly unemployed, making it difficult for parents to pay school fees and engage themselves in economic and academic matters of their children.

Information literacy is considered a basic human right and apart from empowering teachers from the Zithobeni community, the course will also test some models from UNESCO’s draft Media and Information Literacy (MIL) curriculum and subsequently attempt to tailor it for the needs of rural communities such as Zithobeni.

In the context of school teachers at all levels, the responsible and ethical use of the Internet is especially important. The course on Information Literacy will, therefore, not only empower teachers to make effective use of the Internet to find and deal with information related to their teaching tasks, but will also allow them to see the full potential of information available on the Internet for dealing with non-teaching tasks such as offering support to children affected by HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, teachers are dealing increasingly with the impact of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore there are many other ways in which the Internet can be explored to deal with information regarding personal problems and showing schoolchildren how to use the Internet and directing them to use the Internet for their homework.

What is special about this Information Literacy and ICT training initiative is that the teachers from Zithobeni will be the first community in South Africa to engage with UNESCO’s MIL curriculum, which is not yet available in the public sphere. In addition, Prof Ina Fourie, an expert in Information Behaviour, and Mr Kirstin Krauss, a PhD student from the Department of Informatics who has piloted a previous UNESCO-funded ICT training project in deep rural KwaZulu-Natal, will be able to collect valuable knowledge for further and similar projects in other communities.

“We hope that this training initiative will be the start of an ongoing relationship between the University of Pretoria and the community of Zithobeni where more schools and different training initiatives may be started and where information and communication technologies may be used for sustainable development,” says Kirstin. The training will start on 15 May and the certification ceremony is planned for 13 August 2010 at the University’s facilities.

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