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Published in: African Leader Issue 16 2006
Knowledge Network's integrated learning and mentoring methodology can change lives

Published in: Achiever Magazine Issue 17 2006







A man with a future, learning at 50

Agrippa Nkambule, a 50-year-old site administrator working on contract, realised that without skills in the use of a computer he would fast become a man without a future. His company needs people with computer skills and the ability to grow with technology. Sound familiar – some people even younger than Agrippa are faced with the same problem.

Lucky for Agrippa, Bomar Projects, a South African tunnel construction company working in SA, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana, believes in developing its people. Agrippa’s first project with Bomar was the Maguga Dam diversion tunnel in Swaziland. A more current project is the Tswane Metropolitan Council Sewage tunnel, a project where a site administrator without computer skills would simply not cope with the workload.

Agrippa says that since he has acquired computer skills, the volume of administrative work has reduced and the quality and speed of his output has increased. All that is needed is on the computer, says Agrippa, and it has made work easier and lighter. According to Tertia Pietromartire who is responsible for human resources at Bomar Projects, Agrippa is also returning to the office from site with increasingly sophisticated spreadsheets. He is developing his own skills by leaps and bounds. He is also designing his own systems to assist him in his work, which as a site administrator involves general administration, buying and human resource administration. He is no longer a man without a future – he is a man who is part of the Bomar Projects “family” and will be able to grow with the company with each new project. We can all learn from this success story.

Agrippa says that Knowledge Network is the institution responsible for his success story in computers. Bomar selected Knowledge Network for the training because from their web site it “looked like they could do the job” and do the job they did. Agrippa attended the Computers for Beginners course and the MS Office Integrated Computing Course. “The Knowledge Network mentors developed a love of computers in me, they made me an independent thinker when working with computers and a person who is able to solve problems. Initially I thought that maybe I would not understand the course because of my education, or because I am a slow learner, or because of terminology, but there were no stumbling blocks for me. I was afraid of nothing and I was going with the course asking questions all the time. I was at home even in the very first hour.”

“I had never had the opportunity before to attend a computer course. A human being needs confidence in order to do something. The methodology used by Knowledge Network builds a foundation of confidence with computers. The first thing I learned was to control the mouse and the computer. That was my starting point and very quickly I was working with figures in Excel and then typing. You also work in groups and share so I could also see what other people understood. You get project pages with the course. I worked on the project pages during the course and continued to work with them after the course. I still have the project pages and am even going to work through them with my kids. If the kids had this at school there would not be such a high failure rate. The foundation that Knowledge Network gives you is very, very strong. I am now working as an old hand in the field”, says Agrippa.

The Computers for Beginners course is 4 mornings, and the MS Office Integrated Computing course is 5 mornings. Both courses are project- and goal-oriented. The methodology used by Knowledge Network for courses is ILAMM (Integrated learning and mentoring methodology) developed by managing director of Knowledge Network, Jil D Hrdliczka in 1994. The course content includes spreadsheeting, word processing, electronic research, communication and presentations as well as handling the environment and printing.

“After the course I worked on the project pages, even going into the office on a Saturday and a Sunday so that I would be able to work completely on my own in the site office when I went onto the site. I did get a book but did not read much – work had piled up and I had to handle orders, plan the site work, do time sheets and other admin. There was no time for reading a book and, in any case, I found that I did not need it. I am also able to develop myself and produce more and more on computer. In my office, I now have my computer and printer and the work gets done – its easier and lighter to do the work.”

“For other people like me embarking on training like this – training is different for adult students. For a person of my age, there is a purpose in learning, you do not go on courses to “play”, its serious and you need courage and vigour. I thank Knowledge Network – the course was an eye opener for me, the course has created a number of opportunities that I never thought of.

Thank you to Bomar Projects for getting training through Knowledge Network, I wish other companies could follow in their footsteps. I also hope that Knowledge Network staff continue to do their wonderful good work for the nation.”





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Date of update: 18 February 2009