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ORT SA CAPE Education

The Western Cape: Tech Volunteers and Small Business Initiative

#GoDigitalWC Business Support Success Story:


In our third case study of businesses who benefited through our Tech Volunteers initiative, we will be profiling ORT SA CAPE Education. Debbie Orolowitz, a Programme Manager at ORT SA Cape Education, applied for support on behalf of the organisation. We chatted to Debbie and Bev Da Costa (Co-CEO) about their experience participating in this initiative and the relevance to their organisation.



ORT SA CAPE is an NPO based in Cape Town that trains and supports teachers in disadvantaged communities.  Their vision is to have a South Africa where all teachers receive quality training and all children a quality education.[1]

The teachers supported by ORT SA CAPE are based across the Western Cape , whereORT SA Cape Education logo they provide good quality face-to-face training with follow-up support to provide teachers with the skills required to teach children in the ECD, Grade R, Foundation- and Intermediate phases. These courses focus on literacy, numeracy, cognitive development as well as STEM in early childhood and beyond.


ORT SA CAPE believe that their differentiation lies in the way that they:

  • Customise their training to suit the needs of educators
  • Provide ongoing support and mentorship
  • Re-awaken the passion for teaching. 


Why did you apply for support and participate in this initiative?

During COVID-19 we wanted to continue supporting our teachers and were looking at options so that we could continue engaging with our teachers in a meaningful way.

Access to resources is a huge issue in the South African context. Many people still do not have access to resources (devices and data) and digital skills required to access content and engage with it meaningfully and  or are be able to upskill themselves without prior exposure.

I started by considering both synchronous options (live webinars – either interactive or streamed) and asynchronous (LMS, recorded videos, PDF resources, etc.), with which we could support our teachers online while creating an environment that is engaging and makes teachers feel like they are part of a community.

Ladies standing around tables working with plastic building blocksThe challenge was not to just deploy a technology solution, but to identify and leverage technology to suit the audience that we are trying to reach. Doing any kind of e-learning was brand new for the organisation. Although I do come from an e-learning background, I needed help with setting up the systems.

We needed someone with experience to provide some input and guidance on the best way to approach this initiative.


Was the volunteer able to assist you?

The volunteer assigned by DEDAT had the necessary experience to provide a meaningful contribution to the initiative. To start with, being able to talk to someone in the industry who was doing this on the ground was useful. We could bounce ideas around with them and share what has been done before.

ORTS SA CAPE also uses Microsoft Teams as well as the Microsoft suite of products.  The volunteer provided us with more awareness on how these products can be used to better support our organisation. He also provided alternative solutions that could be used to address our requirements, like Microsoft Forms.

We looked at the option of an LMS and he provided some insight and guidance based on his experience.


How did the engagement add value?

The volunteer provided a good sounding board on the various options available to us. He helped us rethink the way we use the technology we already have access to.

We did not go ahead with the use of Teams as the solution to our challenge, but the information and advice provided by the volunteer allowed us to make an informed decision in our selection of an LMS.

Using Microsoft Forms (as a register, survey, assessment tool) was a bigger takeaway than the LMS, as I already had some experience in Moodle. We were using Survey Monkey before, but this was quite costly, and the Forms option was an easy shift as we already have access to the Microsoft suite of products.


What is your next step?

We are doing a phased approach in testing various technologies to support our engagement with our teachers. We are currently testing the use of webinars, as well as re-looking at the implementation of an LMS. We identified Moodle LMS as a possible solution. It is well supported and has a strong tech community behind it.


Kids sitting in a classroom with masks and screenguards in a classroom during COVID19

Is the hybrid model of engagement something you will be doing going forward?

Our strategy is moving towards a blended approach. At the moment, physical engagement is not possible, so we will continue with the online virtual engagement for the foreseeable future.  We still need face-to-face engagement, and we will continue to do this when it is possible post COVID-19.


Feedback on the initiative?

We came into the initiative thinking that it would be a very technical exercise, but the volunteer was great in the way he brought a wider spectrum of experience to the discussion.  The value he added was being a sounding board and helping us think through the processes in a logical way, which was much more useful than just having a technical support engagement. He also said that if we ever needed to chat again he would be happy to engage. 


On behalf of the Department, we would like to give a special mention to Phezulu Dhlodho for graciously offering his time and expertise to help a fellow entrepreneur through this initiative which has been immensely valuable and appreciated.


Contact Details :

Tel: 021 448 8516
​Email: info@orteducation.org.za
Cape Town Science Centre

370B Main Road

Website: https://www.ortsacape.org.za/


[1] https://www.ortsacape.org.za/about-us



#GoDigitalWC is an initiative of the Digital Economy unit of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT).  It aims to help and support SMMEs with practical tools, tips and information to move or expand their business online, and to encourage them to use digital technologies to improve their operational efficiencies and competitiveness.

For more information on our projects and other resources please visit:



#GoDigitalWC and related tools for SMMEs:

#GoDigitalWC Webinars

The #GoDigitalWC Webinar Series is a weekly, free lunchtime series of online events aimed at ‘non-tech’ SMMEs.  To access recordings of these webinars,  visit https://www.westerncape.gov.za/site-page/godigital-webinars.


#GoDigitalWC Tech Articles Series

Our #GoDigitalWC articles are also aimed at assisting businesses with practical advice, tips and tools to participate in the digital economy, move your business online and adopting digital technologies.  The #GoDigitalWC articles can be found at https://www.westerncape.gov.za/site-page/godigital-articles.


Jump for entrepreneurs

Jump for entrepreneurs is a mobile phone application enabling entrepreneurs and business owners in the Western Cape to obtain all the resources they require to start, scale and grow their companies.

The app is free and can be downloaded on the App Store (IoS) and Google Play (Android) (tip: search on ‘Jump for entrepreneurs’).

For more information on the Jump for entrepreneurs visit www.bizjump.co.za or https://www.westerncape.gov.za/site-page/jump-digital-business-support-platform


I-CAN Learn

This initiative, developed in partnership with Google Digital Skills Africa and IBM Digital-Nation Africa, provides citizens with access to free digital skills training courses to enhance their personal digital literacy portfolios.

For more information and to register for courses, visit  https://i-canlearn.westerncape.gov.za/





The content on this page was last updated on 2 October 2020