In a true demonstration that there is no ‘age’ limit to learning or improving one’s skills, 59 elderlies graduated from the groundbreaking ‘iGOGO – Gogos With Vuma’ digital education programme in three provinces, namely the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the City of Tshwane in Gautemg.
Launched early this year in conjunction with fibre network operator Vuma, the programme is the brainchild of goGOGOgo, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting grandmothers (known locally as GOGOs) as agents of change. It’s aimed at equipping the elderly, particularly women, with the basic digital skills needed to navigate the digital era.
One of the initiative’s beneficiaries, Gogo Sylvia Ntombentsha Badi described the two-week-long training as life changing. “It has given me a sense of independence because now I can operate a smartphone and keep in touch with my loved ones without having to ask for too much help,” she said.
The training session included basic skills such as teaching the gogos how to turn their tablets on and off with ease, set reminders on their mobile phone calendars, install apps, save contacts, as well as navigate WhatsApp and YouTube. Not only that, they were also taught to use and set up an email address and manage their Google profiles.
According to one of the trainers, Thando Mokoena, the gogos’ enthusiasm was contagious and created a positive learning environment. “It was wonderful to see the dedication our students showed. They were all eager and very enthusiastic which made them a joy to teach.”
The programme went beyond simply teaching the gogos the basics. Some of the material covered included using social media to connect with family and friends, online shopping, accessing e-government services, online safety, and security, and exploring various educational platforms to keep learning no matter their age. These will be expanded on in greater detail in future sessions.
Taylor Kwong, head of marketing and CSI at Vuma said one of the most rewarding aspects of the programme was being able to see how the programme positively impacted the gogos’ and mkhulus’ lives from the very beginning.
Given the direction technology is moving in, giving gogos the gift of connectivity is crucial to ensuring that they can live happy, healthy, and independent lives, this she added, is something that aligns with Vuma’s brand values.
“Being part of a journey that empowers people who spend their lives helping everyone else is a core part of why we do what we do. It has been heartwarming to see how quickly the gogos have picked up these skills and we are excited to see the impact this will have on their lives and the lives of their grandchildren. We plan to launch another “Gogos with Vuma” project in the near future.”
By broadening their scope, Kwong believes the organisation can create a significant influence on the lives of elderly individuals who are in need of assistance to keep up with the digitally fast-paced world we live in.
“Additionally, with enhanced resources and extended partnerships with like-minded organisations in our communities, I am confident that we can guarantee no gogo is left behind, by making the project accessible.”