Reflecting on service learning in the SD Card project

Students loading the SD cards with materials in the Social Innovation Hub.
Students loading the SD cards with materials in the Social Innovation Hub.

By Afikile Kopo

Umntu Ngumntu Ngabantu - A person is a person through other people.


Being involved in service learning has been an incredible experience, giving me a deeper understanding of the core principles of community-focused journalism. It's been quite an inspiring process in terms of my personal development and the impact it may have on the Makhanda community.

Initially, I found the assignment of distributing SD cards to students in the community to be disconnected to Journalism, and Writing and Editing. I questioned how an apparently straightforward task could fit into the overall course. Entering the community made it clear just how interlinked everything is. 

I visited Kutliso Daniels Secondary School with my classmates one unforgettable Tuesday afternoon as the sun was setting. A vibrant bunch of grade 12 kids welcomed us and wanted to talk to us. I went through a roller coaster of emotions when I met the three students I was grouped with. I couldn't get rid of my doubts about whether or not I had loaded the appropriate educational resources onto their SD cards.  However, as soon as I met them, all of my concerns vanished - they were excited to do an interview and extended a warm welcome.

Quality education through technology

Accessible technology is important in providing educational opportunities and influencing the pupils' prospects for the future. Yet, one of the learners brought up the difficulty they had in finding working computers nearby. If they could find one at all, the usage fees were outrageous. 

For many matrics facing challenges with resources at their local schools, the Vulindlela programme turns things around.  The SD card initiative gives students the opportunity to study whenever and wherever they choose by providing them with access to study resources on their own devices. It's a significant step in the direction of leveling the education playing field and guaranteeing that every learner has the chance to thrive. 

The majority of learners depend on their smartphones in order for the SD cards to work properly. They use the study materials that are kept on the cards to get ready for the trial examinations that are coming up, which are very important for tertiary applications. The students mentioned that they now use the SD cards for their current assignments. 

There were some difficulties when transferring the study materials to the SD cards. In the long run, I see that if the students had been given the opportunity to transfer the materials themselves, the outcome would have been much better. They could have taken an active part in this crucial project.

Vulindlela SD Card interviews

An interview with the assigned learners, who received their SD card. Photo by Sisi Thandie (Thandiswa Nqowana)

My service learning journey has been enriching, not just for myself and my peers, but also for the students at Kutliso Daniels Secondary School. This experience has truly broadened my perspective, highlighting the influential role journalists play in addressing injustices within our communities through advocacy and documentation.