Investing in communities and education through technology

“All the classes from Grade R – Grade 7 have benefitted from the computer classes in the past due to your support. Computer literacy is such an important part of educating our learners. Mrs Anette Aucamp does a great job to introduce learners and improve their skills in using computers as most of the learners do not have access to a computer at home.” – Principal, Laerskool Unie

As South Africa’s leading asset rental company, RentWorks is constantly looking for ways in which it can use its structures, expertise and operational know-how to improve the lives of the most vulnerable of citizens, our children. To this end, and as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, the organisation has, over the years, partnered with a number of schools which would otherwise not have had access to technology assets, and has helped drive a positive change in the community.

‘At RentWorks, we recognise that education is one of the key pillars of our nation’s long-term success,’ says Berlin van der Merwe, RentWorks’ Logistics Manager and a member of its CSR Committee. ‘While this is a sentiment shared by many in our country, what is perhaps less obvious is the critical role that technology can play in the development of our youth, thus better equipping our leaders of tomorrow.’

An integral aspect of the RentWorks business model includes the rental of ICT equipment to its clients, in order to optimise their cash flow and working capital, as well as protect their debt-to-equity ratios. ‘While this concept of rental has increasingly been applied to many private schools across the country,’ says van der Merwe, ‘we are acutely aware of the fact that there are hundreds of under-resourced schools which cannot afford the cost of renting ICT equipment. We recognise the importance of exposing learners to technology from an early age, and the difference it will make when they eventually enter the employment market. It is on this basis that we decided to provide ICT equipment and services to schools in dire need.

‘One of the schools which we have been supporting since 2009 is Laerskool Unie in Steynsburg, Eastern Cape,’ says van der Merwe. ‘We found that once the computer laboratory had been established, this school faced an added challenge in that there were no current members of staff at the school who were able to provide IT lessons to the children. RentWorks stepped forward again and, for the past five years, has helped fund the salary of a relevantly-qualified tutor to provide the necessary computer literacy lessons and support to the students. We have just recently refreshed the refurbished technology for Laerskool Unie to replace the original units we installed several years ago.’

The RentWorks impact in the Steynsburg community goes far beyond the provision of computers and the support of the Information Technology tutor; it  touches the lives of many members of the community insofar as the school facilitates technology lessons for adults in the evenings and on weekends.

‘These types of projects are a natural evolution of the rental aspect of our business and providing technology to schools combines our core expertise and skills with our commitment to social responsibility,’ says van der Merwe. ‘We plan to continue with projects of this nature in future, and would like to extend our reach by partnering with other businesses in addressing the critical need for information technology hardware in schools across the country.’