Today’s blog is about another African educational project that the PSF has recently funded.
Hyperion Development, a South African based company, has been providing online training in web development and programming Python Courses, as well as in-person training and workshops in specific IT topics, to people around the world. Hyperion offers free courses to students, many of whom are unable to take formal computer science courses and others who wish or need to supplement their formal Computer Science studies. Hyperion also provides workshops and courses for businesses and professionals. They are currently the largest non-university trainer of Python in South Africa.
According to their founder and director Riaz Moola,
Over 3500 full-time university and high school students have completed free training courses in C++/Python/Java/ programming and Computer Science topics with Hyperion. Students from over 80% of all tertiary institutions in South Africa take our courses, with approximately 54% of these students studying for full-time Computer Science degrees.
Hyperion’s courses are run on the Python-powered Virtual Learning Environment, which was developed with the help of a PSF grant awarded in 2013. The Hyperion Portal, a platform built entirely by South Africans, is used to deliver their Massive Open Online Courses, which are 100% free to full-time students. In addition, Hyperion helps students and IT professionals find jobs through their Referrals Program.
Currently, Hyperion’s Cape Town team is attempting to expand further by offering free Python training to students at the University of Cape Town. They have also conducted teacher training events, most recently in Cape Town at the 2014 Department of Education Western Cape Teachers Conference.
Their excellent work has earned them three previous grants from the PSF since 2013. How Hyperion advances the PSF’s mission is evident from a recent remark made by PSF Director and Co-Chair of the Outreach & Education Committee, David Mertz:
The reality of the world is that not everyone can gain admission to, nor afford to attend, elite universities. It is my belief, and the belief of the PSF, that computer literacy today has a status increasingly similar to natural language literacy, and should be a skill and capability that all people obtain and have access to. More advanced research in these areas in universities has an essential role, but a basic capability is something we should strive to universalize, not to gate with accreditation, admission procedures, strict academic prerequisites and other requirements, etc.
The current grant will sponsor free 5-month Python training at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.