CECS is the oldest national computer training NGO established in April 1985 for the technological empowerment of the historically disadvantaged. CECS was born out of a group of progressive teachers faced with computers the government had provided for schools. They began investigating the possibilities of using the computer to design media and lessons at schools.
At a meeting of 250 primary and high school teachers in April 1985, CECS was launched. The 1985 uprising broke out and work came to a complete standstill. "People were asking how CECS could be fiddling with computers while the schools were burning, how can the organisation be playing with computers when there is a struggle to be fought.
Regular camps were held which became an important method of passing on skills to teachers and students. Through discussions and talks, the uses of computers were placed in social context of Apartheid education. At first the organisation agreed, but later realised that this was also an important site of involvement," said Doug Reeler, one of the founder members of CECS.
ICTs can contribute to the empowerment of individuals and communities as a tool to:
- Giving a voice to the disadvantaged who have been isolated, invisible and without a voice in which they can highlight their needs
- Finding niche markets for handicrafts
- Strengthen peoples participation in the political process - democracy
- Improve access to government and its services
- Educate, and disseminate indigenous knowledge
- Access to information such as legal advice, micro lending; HIV-Aids, etc
- Provide profitable opportunities to small scale farmers in business-to-business and business-to-government markets.
This will depend on:
- Education and training which is the single most important factor.
- Access to ICTs.
- Affordability of training and related services.
- Equipping people with the skills to become users, creators, designers, etc.