Dream Big!

Team Deep Blue – My Thoughts

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” — Steve jobs

DSC_0095There is an old saying that there are two people who are happier at someone else’s success than their own: a teacher and a father. I believe this is true because I don’t think winning the IBM Youth Innovation Challenge myself would have made me as happy as seeing my students win.

I am proud of our students who worked hard, put in the effort and work well as a team. I am excited about where this could possibly go; I mean, they won the first ever Hackathon held in South Africa by none other than IBM – this is no small accomplishment, and considering that they will now be offered internships at IBM, I am sure there are big things in store for these bright minds.

This is a realisation of our vision at IT varsity to produce the best developers in the country who will be comparable to the best in other countries. Our team is not happy to merely go through the motions of lecturing, giving exams and providing qualifications; we are aiming for much more. We live by the words of Steve Jobs quoted above. We want to do something that really matters. We want to produce the best. We want to make our little dent in the universe. And this week, we made a tiny little dent.

We have an awesome team, each of whom is passionate about technology and about empowering others. There is no substitute for a great team, and I am grateful to be working with such awesome people, and I sincerely hope we can do much greater things going forward.

Whenever our students go out there, winning awards, gathering accolades, becoming success stories of their own, we will always be here, working behind the scenes to ensure that they get all the support they need long after they’ve graduated and moved on. And we will be busy producing the next cohort of winners.

That is what IT varsity is all about.

IT varsity Produces Winners

IT varsity’s Team Deep Blue were awarded the top prize by IBM’s judges at the 2015 IBM Youth Innovation Challenge which was held at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban from the 25th to the 29th of May 2015.

The Youth Innovation Challenge is an initiative of ‘Innovate Durban’ in partnership with IBM, the eThekwini Municipality, the Sustainable Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF) and the Government of Flanders. The focus of the competition is to support youth driven technology businesses.

See also: Team Deep Blue – My Thoughts by Bilal Kathrada, CEO of IT varsity

The theme of the Innovate Durban- ’Hackathon’ event was ‘Smarter eThekwini’. This supports the agenda of ‘Open Government’ and ‘Open Data’ and in this way supports engagement by the eThekwini Municipality with its citizens.

The event was booked to capacity, and attracted developers and students from around the country. Nine teams participated in the Challenge, and each team was tasked with developing a technology-based solution to one major challenge facing the city and its citizens.

IT varsity’s Team Blue developed WorkerBee, a social app that linked skilled artisans to potential clients. WorkerBee is like LinkedIn, but for artisans.

So what’s in store for the winners?

  1. A cash prize
  2. A 3 month internship with IBM at any of their facilities worldwide.
  3. Possible funding and incubation by the eThekwini Municipality and SmartXchange.

Well done to our winners!

Some pics of the event. More pics on Facebook.


Maseehullah, Adrial and Simba having fun


IT varsity CEO Bilal Kathrada with the winning team


When the going gets tough…

Geek Girl of The Week, Thenjiwe Precious Ngcobo

Say hello to IT varsity’s Geek Girl of The Week, Thenjiwe Precious Ngcobo, from the App Development class.

Thenjiwe Precious Ngcobo from the App Development class.

Thenjiwe Precious Ngcobo from the App Development class.

Who are you?

My name is Thenjiwe Precious Ngcobo and I am 19 years old. I was born and brought up in Ntuzuma, Durban.

What are you studying at IT varsity?

App Development

Why did you choose to study this particular course?

I find it interesting to create things that you see on the Internet and App Dev is a lot of fun.

Now that you’re almost through the year with your studies, how do you feel about it?

Really happy. I can’t wait for the year to end so that I can graduate, and move on to learn more in the world of IT.

So, what have you learnt so far in App Development?

Mobile apps, Java, Databases, SQL, PHP.

Do you plan on furthering your studies in the near future?

Yes, I would love to further my studies in anything in the IT field.

Tell us more about your IT varsity experience…

I have connected with everybody really well and all the students feel like family to me. Even the IT varsity staff feel like our own parents here. I would love to still keep in touch with everyone here even after this year is over.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I simply see myself as an excellent App Developer.

Super cool stuff, Thenjiwe! IT varsity is proud to have YOU as our Geek Girl of The Week :)


Geek Girl of the Week, Nevashini Govender

Let’s say Hi to IT varsity’s latest Geek Girl of the Week, Nevashini Govender from the App Development class!


Who are you?

I am Nevashini Govender and I am 19 years old. I was born and brought up in the wonderful city of Durban and I currently reside in Chatsworth.

What are you studying at IT varsity?

App Development

Why did you choose to study this particular course?

It seems fun and I just love the idea of creating my very own product/app. I also find it fascinating and intriguing to see how apps work and their functionality.

Now that you’re almost through the year with your studies, how do you feel about it?

Relieved, but I know that this is not really the end for me as I still have alot to learn because technology is always increasing.

So, what have you learnt so far in App Development?

Mobile apps, Java, Databases, SQL, PHP.

Do you plan on furthering your studies in the near future?

Yes! I would really love to further my studies in Game Development or even Tech Support as I also love experimenting with the practical and hardware stuff in IT.

Tell us more about your IT varsity experience…

It has just been really amazing thus far! I have met so many cool people here and now it is like we are one big happy family. My lecturers are also very helpful and supportive all the time.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Most probably creating my own apps, owning my own company or being a multi-millionaire!

Keep up the great spirit, Nevashini! IT varsity is proud to have YOU as our Geek Girl of The Week 🙂


kids learning code zaMany technology experts believe that the next big frontier for technology is not Silicon Valley USA, but Africa. Many also believe that Africa is on the brink of a major technology revolution, and that South Africa is ideally suited to become the forerunner in the revolution.

But South Africa’s major challenge is that it lacks skilled ICT professionals. This is a major hindrance that is keeping back the local economy in an increasingly information-centric global economy. We need a constant supply of young professionals with the right IT skills; skills that are relevant, up-to-date and in tune with global technological trends.

At IT varsity we believe that South Africa has sufficient potential talent, but we are failing to harness it from a young age.

The big question is, how do we harness local talent talent? How do we get more kids, especially girls (sadly, females make up about 12% to 15% of SA’s IT workforce!) into technology? Not only that, but how do we train them to be among the best in the world?

We believe that we have the answers to these questions.

The Solution

Kids from middle to high-income homes have far more tech opportunities at their disposal than those from low-income homes due to the fact that they have access to computers and other devices at home as well as Internet access.

And yet there are so many extremely bright children in rural areas and townships who deserve an opportunity and, given one, will show the world what they can do. In empowering these children, we are empowering the entire economy; because it is these kids who will go on to fill the much-needed skills gap in the IT sector in this country. Further, it is possible that some of these kids will be great innovators of the future, developing solutions for people all over the world.

We believe that the only way to overcome this unfair situation is to:

  1. Provide coding classes to kids in rural areas and townships
  2. Provide them with computers of their own so that they can continue their learning


The Benefits

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Margaret Mead

In most parts of the world a lot of emphasis is placed on teaching kids to code, because coding present numerous benefits, as listed below:

Benefits of coding classes:

  • Identify and harness talent from a young age
  • Encourage learners to get into IT careers
  • Coding teaches people how to think
  • Coding enhances problem-solving abilities
  • Encourage learners to start innovating from as young as possible
  • Encourage an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Improve the overall levels IT skills among students currently in schools.

We believe that this training must be made accessible to all children.

At this stage we are unaware of any institute on South Africa that is actively teaching coding skills to kids of all backgrounds, so we at IT varsity have decided to address the problem by piloting classes at a couple of schools. This has proven quite successful, and now we would like to extend the scope to include as many other schools as possible.

IT varsity is the ideal institute to offer such classes because it is our core business to teach advanced coding skills.

If you are interested in this project, and wish to learn more, please view the Project Summary here.

Zero to Web Developer in 12 Weeks!

Botcamp Grad

Haroon Vankra receiving his certificate from IT varsity CEO, Bilal Kathrada

Last Thursday we had a mini graduation at IT varsity for two of our Dev Bootcamp students, Haroon Thami Vankra and Sahal Motala.

Now there are a few rather amazing and inspiring  points about these two guys:

  1. Neither of them had ever coded before, but they are now Web Developers who’ve created their own mobile-friendly web application called NotesPlus. Click here to see their app.
  2. They used no frameworks – everything is “hand-coded”
  3. Sahal, at only 15 years old , is our youngest Dev Bootcamper to date!
  4. They achieved this in just 12 weeks.

How they did it (the Techie details)

Sahal Motala receiving his cert from Bilal Kathrada

Sahal Motala receiving his cert from Bilal Kathrada

Haroon and Sahal started out the intense 12 week course by learning to code HTML and CSS. They learned to design fully-fledged, beautiful, professional, responsive web sites.

From there they moved on to the PHP programming language and MySQL databases, where they learned to create secure database-driven web apps. They covered end-to-end app development, including database access, web app security, authentication and authorisation, form validations, the whole shabang. This proved very challenging, but they pulled it off with hard work and dedication.

Once they gained a thorough understanding of the basic concepts, they were required to work as a team to create the NotesPlus app. To plan and track the project, they used Trello.

For version control, they used Git.

Where to from here?

Haroon has already found a job as a Web Developer (to be quite honest, it was more like the job found him!). Sahal, who is being home-schooled, is going back to school to complete his formal studies, under solemn oath that he will never stop coding.

We’re really proud of these youngsters, and wish them the best going forward.

Do programmers still need a computer science degree to land a great job?

Degree or no, demand for coding talent continues to make it easier for hopeful programmers seeking a job. However, landing the gig might not be the biggest challenge for those on non-traditional paths.

App Dev


DevDays: A Resounding Success!

ronica-at-devdaysWell, the big day has come and gone, and the event was a resounding success!

On Saturday 12 May, IT varsity held its first ever DevDays, and it was successful beyond anyone’s expectations. DevDays was attended by awesome students from various institutes as well as experienced developers from companies in the Durban area. There were a lot of interesting topics discussed, and everyone left more enlightened. And above all, everyone had a great time. Check out the pics on IT varsity’s Facebook page.

The idea behind DevDays is to start something: to bring developers and aspiring developers together to talk, to teach and  to learn. The long term vision is to create a thriving, buzzing tech community in the Durban area, and to get more young people interested in IT. By all indications, this was achieved, because most attendees were already wondering when the next DevDays will be!

But don’t take our word for it – see what some of the visitors had to say:

 More and more events like this…they are very educational! Sandile

This wasn’t just about talks, but it was more practical and we actually see and understand the code behind everything. Sakhwamuzi

It was marvelous! It encouraged me to learn more about IT and programming. Sabelo

Interesting and relevant content. Hayley

All I can say is, what DevDays offered for free is more useful than what we pay for nowadays. Ngcebo

This is a fantastic step in the right direction for building tech communities around South Africa. Sipho

With great feedback like this, it’s hard not to consider organising another DevDays…

Do’s and Don’ts in an Interview

Sitting for interviews can be extremely stressful. Being called for an interview is good news, because it means you’ve made it throught the initial stages and have been short-listed; but an interview is also your last chance to either land that job you want (need?) or to blow it.

With a fair amount of preparation, though, and some tips from experts, you can greatly increase your chances of getting that job of your dreams. Below are some tips from Yawar Baig, internationally-renowned business and leadership consultant, and president of leadership consulting and training company Yawar Baig and Associates.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by yawarbaig

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