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…

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.

A 74-Year-Old Man Creates Beautiful Works Of Art Using Excel Spreadsheets

horiuchi-excel-artI have to confess: we’ve been teaching Excel for many years now, and helping people do different things with it, but never in our wildest imagination did we think of this: Tatsuo Horiuchi, a 74-year-old man from an area in Japan called Nagano Prefecture, has discovered how to make stunning works of art using Excel spreadsheets.


Free Internet Classes at IT varsity

globe-internetTrue story: an associate of IT varsity recently went to a library in a Durban suburb and noticed that even though there was a computer with an internet connection at the library, no one was using it. This was despite the fact that there were a number of students doing research at the library.

She decided to approach a couple of the students and inquire why they were not using the computer to do their research. The response form the students was shocking, to say the least: they did not know how to use the Internet!

Shocking as this may seem to those of us who have the privilege of being connected 24/7, this is a sad reality in South Africa. The vast majority of the population does not know how to use computers and the Internet.

In a world where technology is moving at an amazing pace and the Internet is changing the way we look at business, work, shopping and communication, this is a situation that is highly detrimental not just to the individuals but to the economy of the country: we’re going to get left far behind if something is not done about it.

The staff and students of IT varsity decided to do our part to help alleviate this situation by offering free Internet classes to the public. We realised that the July holidays are around the corner, and that there would be scores of school kids around with nothing much to do, so it would be an ideal opportunity to bring them in for classes.

But the classes are not just for school kids – everyone is welcome, young and not-so-young; so if you are really interested in learning about the Internet, and were afraid to ask someone to show you the ropes or you couldn’t afford computer classes, then this one is for you! And to make things easier, we’re hosting the classes at five different venues on different days. See the programme below (please note that the dates and venues may change):

Date Venue
30 June, 1,2 July IT varsity City Campus
3,4,5 July Chatsworth Centre
7,8 July Chatsworth Centre
9,10,11,12 July Phoenix Plaza
14,15 July IT varsity City Campus
16,17,18 July The Workshop


The duration of the class will be 3 hours. There will be 2 classes per day: 9am until 12pm and 12mp until 3pm.

To get more information about the free Internet classes or to book your place, please contact us.

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…

Cellphones spur reading revolution

BOOKstackThis article was originally published on ITWeb

Mobile phones could help to enhance literacy rates in emerging markets, where physical books are in many cases outnumbered by cellphones.


Woeful lack of women in the African ICT sector

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem

International Women’s Day


International Women’s Day was celebrated on 8 March and is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. The day is celebrated as a result of the hard work of Suffragettes. The great women campaigned for women’s right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes and celebrates the success of women worldwide. The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911.


IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.

Many international organisations and companies now support International Womens Day by running their own initiatives and supporting outside programmes.

Social Entrepreneur and LinkedIn Influencer Leila Janah wrote a piece to commemorate International Women’s Day. Her powerful sentiments express the ability for women to be leaders in the field of technology.

“When you think of women in technology, who comes to mind? Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg? HP’s Meg Whitman? Google’s Susan Wojcicki?

Yes, me too. But I also think of Martha Kerubo, an orphan from rural Kenya, who recently graduated from high school, acquired some basic technical skills, and is carving out a life for herself through online BPO work. Like those mentioned above, Martha is a bright, determined woman with great inner strength who sees and seizes the potential of technology. While Martha isn’t on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful, she is a very powerful woman in her own right.”

Google also celebrated the day with another of their famous doodles to show solidarity with the women of the world on the day.


Google Doodle for International Women’s Day


IT Varsity endorses empowerment of women and promotes equality among students on campus. Many students in our new app dev class are female. The campus is also busy with preparing to launch the Geek Girl Campaign which will encourage more females to get involved in app development and technology.


ITNews Africa, a leading tech website, recently interviewed Dr Rebecca Parsons, CTO at ThoughtWorks, to gather insight into the issue of the low number of women in the field of ICT in Africa. She commented that the African ICT context still has a high barrier to entry for talented females. “There is still a woeful lack of women in technology globally and Africa is unfortunately not any better.   Development roles, leadership pipelines and leadership development all need attention.  We need more role models for women in technology.”

While the industry for telecommunications, technology, smart devices, cloud computing and the economy of apps seems to be growing in Africa at a phenomenal rate due to high user adoption, it seems that the industry still lags behind with opportunities for women in the ICT sector.  Skills transfer is not happening quick enough to address the need.

IT Varsity is committed to addressing the need for more women in the field of science and technology. Our student intake for females is an encouraging 40% of all classes combined. With this trend, IT Varsity aims to inspire and empower females of all walks of life and learning to become an integral part of the ICT sector.

New students at IT Varsity Orientation Day 03 March 2014

SA students shun maths and science degrees

Professor Irma Eloff, dean of education at the University of Pretoria, says that universities needed to bolster enrollments for maths and science degrees, according to a report in the Times.

The matric class of 2013 celebrated a pass rate of 78.2%, up from 73.9 % in 2012 – although many questioned whether the quality of the paper and the pass rate, at 30%, were sufficient.



The number of maths passes in 2013 increased to 142,666 from 121,970 in 2012, while physical science passes improved to 124,206, from 109,918 in 2012.

The Times noted that, of the 142,666 matric pupils who wrote maths, only 15.6%, or 22,255 scored 60%.

“In maths, science and African languages, we still need to increase numbers substantially,” Eloff said.

Adcorp labour market economist Loane Sharp told the Times that universities were not producing enough engineers, doctors and scientists, as these degrees required a minimum of 60% for maths.

The Times said that a bachelor of education degree proved to be the most popular degree among students enrolling at tertiary institutions in 2014, as confirmed by eight universities.

“They are producing huge numbers [of graduates] in arts and social sciences, which are not needed in the workplace.”


Thanks to Businesstech for this article.

Bleak jobs outlook for matric class of 2013

Youth strongly encouraged to study further.

A TOUGH job market awaits the matric class of 2013 in the Eastern Cape against the backdrop of poor economic growth in the country.

Economist at Efficient Group, Merina Willemse, said the Employment Incentive Act (dubbed the youth wage subsidy) which came into effect on January 1, would not make a dent in employment in a weak economic environment.


Jobs pic

Analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said matriculants wanting to join the job-seekers pool were in for a “shocking disappointment” in the face of a national economy that has shown weak growth of 0.7%, according to the latest measurement released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) in November.

This is the weakest economic growth since the recession in 2008-2009 and is said to have been fuelled by strikes in the automotive sector.

Fikeni said the impact of a weak economy would be more severe in the Eastern Cape, a province which has consistently had the second highest unemployment rates in the country in the past year, after only the Free State.

“The prospects of finding employment are defined by a generally poor economic ability to absorb those wishing for entry in the labour market.

“This is more acute in the Eastern Cape, where unemployment has always been high.

“Young people who leave school hoping to find a job are in for a shocking disappointment.

“The situation raises the question of whether we ought to focus on employment or should government, civil society and business encourage the start of small businesses for those people,” said Fikeni.

According to StatsSA, approximately 3.3 million of the 10.4 million between 15 to 24 years were not in employment, education or training in the third quarter of last year.

In the Eastern Cape, the youth unemployment rate is around 41% – but it shoots up to 72% when taking into account those who are neither employed nor actively seeking jobs.

While the matric class of 2013 celebrates what is said to be the highest pass rate in democratic South Africa, Willemse said the country’s weak economic growth does not bode well for employment.

“It’s a very difficult [labour] market for matriculants to come into.

“The unemployment rate was generally high to begin, but more so among the youth,” said Willemse.

The latest economic growth rate for the third quarter of 2013 came in at 0.7% from 3.2% in the previous quarter.

Department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism (Dedeat) communication manager Sixolile Makaula conceded that the job market was tough for the youth, but said they should study beyond matric to better their chances of finding a job.

“The unemployment rate for a person in the Eastern Cape who has completed matric is 32% in comparison to 46% for lower levels of education and just 10% for post-matric qualifications,” said Makaula.


Thanks to Dispatch for this article.

Universities blamed for poor tech teachers

Academics are sceptical regarding a ministerial report that found all the country’s universities are largely to blame for poor teaching of maths, physics and technology in schools, reports The Sunday Independent.

A task team appointed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga in February, has reportedly found that “inadequate pedagogical training” at universities is one of the leading reasons for “serious shortage of competent, qualified, mathematics, science and especially technology-subject teachers”. Teaching qualifications are supposedly also viewed as inadequate, with all qualifications found to be “poor, with some worse than others”.


A task team appointed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga has reportedly found that inadequate training at universities is one of the leading reasons for poor tech teachers.

A task team appointed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga has reportedly found that inadequate training at universities is one of the leading reasons for poor tech teachers.

Three maths-education professors from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) apparently responded to the education report to The Sunday Independent, saying the blanket-blame of universities obscures differences in programmes both within and across higher education institutions.

Jill Adler, Hamsa Venkat and Margot Berger are quoted as saying a “more nuanced approach” to these issues would have been helpful, as they agree that the problems exist and need to be addressed.

Josef de Beer, associate professor of science education at the University of Johannesburg, is also quoted by the newspaper as saying that to state that all teaching qualifications are poor, is a sweeping statement.

“I am curious to know what research methodology was followed. Was an in-depth audit, and interviews with lecturers and students done at all higher institutions? My concern is that unsubstantiated statements are made in the report.”

The newspaper says that the Department of Basic Education did not respond to e-mailed questions and instead referred it to a statement Motshekga had already released on the task team’s report.

Article originally taken from IT Web