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Futurekids Belville - 10 years Added on 08 November 2008

Why Nelson Mandela is my hero…

 The story of Elzette Brown and Futurekids Bellville 1998 – 2008
I become involved with Futurekids in the beginning of 1998 and was appointed as trainer at Futurekids Durbanville. From the moment “go” I was completely stunned by the beauty of the curriculum (the old Stabilised Curriculum) and immediately foresaw that his was the solution to information technology training in schools.
By the end of 1998, I had taught Futurekids at a primary school, a crèche, a high school and afternoon computer centre. I was also very pleased to know that our neighbouring franchise (Bellville) was in the market and urgently looking for a new owner – the best Christmas gift anyone could give me and negotiations started in December that year.
In 1999 I led our first completely integrated school project: the Futurekids curriculum was taught throughout a primary school as part of the normal school activities. What an experience! After a year of teaching small groups of children, it was quite a challenge to teach information technology to children where up to 80% of them had never touched a mouse before, in classes of up to 45 learners, with only 20 computers and no air conditioner!
The sale of Futurekids Bellville officially went through in 1999 and we were delighted! My partner and I decided to only concentrate on the implementation of “full schools” (i.e. only compulsory classes to all learners at the schools as opposed to voluntary lessons to those who could afford to pay extra for IT). This proved to be a very successful approach in the long term.
Another Futurekiddie (and the first Brownie) was added to our family in 2000: yes, this time dressed in pink and weighing only 2.7 kg!
The implementation of “full schools” depends on good relationships in the school and support of a high quality to the IT teacher and all stake holders involved. I loved it: I had one foot still in schools and another in the private sector. In this way I could live my dream of investing in the lives of educators and children: the now and the future.
In 2002 SkillsPro head office gave me the go ahead to work throughout the Western Cape in schools outside of the existing franchises (Monte Vista and Paarl were still in operation then). I had just finished my first road trip from Langebaan to Plettenberg Bay via the Klein Karoo, when another Futurekiddie joined our family. I still remember the words of a principal in the Karoo: “Mevrou, ons sal graag meer vrouens in jou toestand wil sien”!
In the last three years I was involved with the Khanya project and trained approximately 400 educators in basic computer skills. This was a very exciting period, as Khanya is seen as the best provincial IT implementing project in the world, but is still adapting and evolving as it grows. It is an awesome experience to drive through a township to share the joy of technology with educators who are hungry for motivation and reinforcement.  What a pleasure to see technophobia shiver in the light of knowledge !
So where does Nelson Mandela fit into this story you might ask? Because of the promise made by Mr Mandela (that no teacher would be retrenched while the WCED was working on their redeployment plan), all teaching posts were frozen in 1996. I desperately waited for the new redeployment plan to be accepted by parliament, but finally realised in 1998 that I will have to look outside of formal education for employment. It is then that I stumbled upon Futurekids. The rest, they say, is history….
This story will not be complete without giving a big hug to my nearest family and friends who supported me all the way (I am aware though of the stunned responses when they heard that this art teacher wanted to turn “Techie”!). Especially my mom and dad who never refused babysitting even at the most akward times; Ivon, who encouraged me when nothing else mattered; our children who never complain when “Mommy visists a far school”; and my Heavenly Father: in Him I live and move and have my being.