We aim recruit one or two groups of students per year, and offer them one of the four types of training, in groups of up to ten. We don’t only provide students with training. We also recognise the students will have many other challenges in their lives which may prevent them from learning, so we provide a contribution towards living and transport costs for the duration of the course. The types of training we provide are:
1. Digital literacy & numeracy – for students who cannot read or write. Recognising that only about one third of disabled people in Sierra Leone have been to school, this course was introduced in 2015. The purpose of the course is to help those with little, or no, background in formal education to write, read and gain numeracy core skills using the computer. The course uses tools such as the BBC Bitsize packages; duration is 1 month – cost is around £85 per student.
2. Basic Information and Communications Technology (ICT) – for students who can read and write, but have not used computers yet. The course is teaching them the basics of computers, for example keyboard and mouse skills, Microsoft Office packages (Word, Excel, etc). The duration is 3-4 months – cost is around £85 per student per month, so an average cost of £300 per student for the course.
3. Intermediate – similar to Basic ICT but in more depth, and includes additional modules such as employability skills and entrepreneurship, to support our students to gain internships and employment when they have completed their training. The duration is 7-8 months – cost £130 per student per month, so an average cost of £1,000 per student for the course.
4. Advanced – this level of training assumes students are already competent with basic computing, and are now able to specialise in a specific area. This leads to industry recognised qualifications, such as CISCO networking and Microsoft Engineer certification. The duration is 10-12 months. This was one of the first courses DST ran. However, for a number of reasons it has not been repeated, including strategically focussing on meeting the more basic needs of a larger number of disabled people, requiring a specialist training provider and associated higher costs. DST still plans to run these courses in the future, assuming the Trust has sufficient income and the right students are identified.
Our recruitment process is robust, including interviews and an assessment of the candidate character and ability to benefit from the training. During the training DST runs a robust student monitoring regime, with weekly review meetings to record progress.