Students set to write own success stories thanks to coding programme

These students, from left, Mohammed Khan, Hafsah Mbotoli, Muneeb Jamal, Dylan van Rensburg, Lorenzo van Dalen and Brittney Martin, were chosen to take part in the Do4SA programme and received their Apptrepreneur National Certificates recently
CODE FOR SUCCESS: These students, from left, Mohammed Khan, Hafsah Mbotoli, Muneeb Jamal, Dylan van Rensburg, Lorenzo van Dalen and Brittney Martin, were chosen to take part in the Do4SA programme and received their Apptrepreneur National Certificates recently
Image: Werner Hills

When he lost his parents as a teenager, Dylan van Rensburg would often go with just one meal a day — the food provided at his school.

Scared and unsure what his future would hold, the Schauderville resident says it was a close call between falling in with the wrong crowd and making something of his future.

On Thursday he proved that he had what it took to succeed — perseverance.

Van Rensburg, 27, was one of six young adults who graduated from ITvaristy on Thursday and despite not having any family members present to witness his achievement, he was smiling from ear to ear.

He obtained an Apptrepreneur or “Make me a Coder” qualification after being awarded a bursary worth R26,000 that paid for the course, his transportation and meals.

Van Rensburg lost his mother when he was just 15 and two years later his father also died. Both had cancer.

He said he had felt lost in the world and did not know how he would survive without his parents, nearly falling in with the wrong crowd.

“I had to learn from my own mistakes. I didn’t know who I could trust so I never had anyone [with whom] I could share how I felt, or my challenges.

“From being a teenager to being a young adult, I had to find my own way. I had to learn the hard way how to survive.

“In my community, there’s a lot of gangsterism and drugs.

“Children easily get influenced [to fall] into gangsterism and drugs. I could’ve been on that path as well,  [but] I always loved computers and this was my opportunity,” Van Rensburg said.

He said after his parents had died he had been approached by people who asked him to deliver drugs, something he said no to.

“I started drinking alcohol and smoking weed as a means of dealing with the situation. I stopped when my cousin told me about Do4SA.

“That’s when I started to find hope. I realised that I’d have to stop all the negative things I was doing l if I wanted to get this qualification,” he said.

He subsequently approached the organisation and his fortunes changed.

Dylan van Rensburg, from Schauderville, almost fell into a life of crime after he was orphaned as a teenager, but his love of computers triumphed
NEW PATH Dylan van Rensburg, from Schauderville, almost fell into a life of crime after he was orphaned as a teenager, but his love of computers triumphed
Image: Werner Hills

Do4SA project manager Ryan Hendry said the organisation had partnered with ITvarsity to provide the Apptrepreneur course.

The organisation offers bursaries to youngsters from disadvantaged communities.

“The students underwent a 12-month course,” Hendry said.

They did not have to have matric and the organisation was aiming to get more young women on the bursary programme to move away from the idea that coding was a male-dominated field.

Once they have finished the course, the graduates are able to design apps, something Hendry said would “help them as we are entering the fourth industrial revolution and there’s a huge demand for people with their skills, not just locally but on an international level”.

“We help our students to get internships [and] we assist them to get jobs,” he said.

“John Rankin from Engeli [Enterprise Development]  helped to provide an opportunity for us to be interviewed among other non-profit organisations to get funding.

“We were selected to get funding and we’ll be able to offer bursaries to five more students.

“We do wish more companies might provide funds as we would be able to triple the number of students,” Hendry said.

Another graduate, Brittney Martin from Booysen Park, said she was the first person in her family who knew what coding was, and she was very excited about being part of the digital world.

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