The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) Eastern Cape Chapter has recognised the province’s leading IT achievers at its gala annual dinner and awards in Port Elizabeth on 22 May 2019.

 With a strong focus on IT educators and students, as well as industry leaders, the awards named Jean Greyling, Associate Professor in the Department of Computing Sciences at the Nelson Mandela University, as the EC IITPSA 2019 IT Personality of the Year.

Professor Greyling was honoured for his outstanding contributions to school and university ICT education in the Eastern Cape and nationally. He has been promoting IT careers and specifically programming, through the use of the TANKS app, to school children with limited access to computers throughout South Africa.

Since the launch of the app in November 2017, coding boot camps have been presented to 3500 learners across South Africa, as well as in Zambia, Kenya and Norway. Corporate sponsors who have invested in the app include Standard Bank, BKB, Mandela Bay iHub, LexisNexis, Volkswagen, SITA, Entelect, S4 and Johannesburg Libraries. Schools such as Westering High, Victoria Park High, Pearson High, DF Malherbe High School, Harvest Christian School and Hudson Park Primary School have identified TANKS as an excellent tool to introduce learners to coding at a young age. Ms Kelly Bush from Hudson Park Primary School in East London has developed seven draft lesson plans, aimed at introducing learners to coding through TANKS.

Professor Greyling was invited to UNESCO’s flagship Mobile Learning Week in Paris earlier this year, where TANKS was one of 60 innovations to be showcased. After Paris, he went to Germany as part of a DAAD-sponsored research project related to TANKS. He has also been invited to train trainers in Windhoek, for a roll out of TANKS in Namibia later this year.

In addition, Professor Greyling has played a very substantial role in organising millions of Rands in bursaries, enabling students in need to study Computing Sciences at Nelson Mandela University, mostly via BankSETA.

Prof Greyling will be nominated for the national IITPSA 2019 IT Personality of the Year award that will be awarded later this year.

Presenting the awards, IITPSA President Ulandi Exner and CEO Tony Parry, along with Dr Lester Cowley, Chairman of the Eastern Cape Chapter of the IITPSA, congratulated the winners and highlighted the importance of education in building the IT sector’s capacity. “Skills development and professional development are key focus areas for IITPSA, so it is encouraging to see nominees and winners of such a high calibre being recognised at these awards,” said Cowley.

The other 2019 award winners were:

  • Benjamin Roode, a Grade 12 Grey High School scholar, highly talented programmer and strong leader, was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2019 IT Scholar of the Year for his outstanding academic achievements in ICT at his school and extramurally.
  • Leanda Oosthuizen, Subject Head of Information Technology at Grey High School and a gifted teacher,  was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2019 IT Teacher of the Year for her outstanding contributions to IT school education in the Eastern Cape and nationally over many years, producing brilliant scholars who have gone on to be outstanding ICT professionals.
  • Hannelie Nell, Subject Head of CAT (Computer Applications Technology) at Hoërskool Framesby, was awarded the EC IITPSA 2019 CAT Teacher of the Year (Special Commendation) Award for her outstanding work as a very motivated and passionate teacher intramurally and extramurally, committed to the success of her learners and driven by a vision of excellence and progress.
  • Anton van Kampen, Subject Head of CAT and IT and Head of Department of Practical and Technical Subjects at Nico Malan High School, was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2019 CAT Teacher of the Year for his outstanding CAT teaching work, his work as a provincial and national CAT examiner and marker, and his contributions to teacher training and as an author of textbooks. Anton is also the computer laboratory and network manager at his school, in addition to his heavy teaching load.
  • Lynne Thackray Smith, Subject Head of CAT at Grey High School, was awarded the EC IITPSA 2019 CAT Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award:, for her many years of outstanding work as a very motivated and passionate teacher. Her scholars have achieved places in the top levels of achievers in the National CAT Olympiad and her Grade 12 results are outstanding. Her CAT blog has over 40 000 views and provides an outstanding portal of resources for CAT teachers around South Africa.
  • Katherine James, a second year MSc student in the Department of Computer Science at Rhodes University, was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2019 IT Student of the Year for her outstanding academic results and achievements. For all three years of her undergraduate studies (2013 to 2015), Katherine was on the Dean’s academic merit list and was awarded academic half colours. She was also awarded full academic colours in 2016. She has received two “best paper” awards at conferences in South Africa in the last six months for her MSc research. Katherine also assists fellow students and the wider school community through her tutoring work.
  • Belinda Samuels, Senior Operations Manager of MEA Managed Services at Dimension Data, was awarded the EC IITPSA 2019 Woman in IT Award for her outstanding work in promoting and supporting human development in her place of work and in the broader community. Over the years she has given her time, expertise and her heart to projects and corporate social investment initiatives at institutions including Walmer High School, Walmer Pre-Primary School, Malukhanye Creche and the Siyanqoba Soup Kitchen. She is an example, mentor and inspiration to many people at her place of work.  During the years of support and mentorship she has seen many of the people she mentored move on to senior positions within Dimension Data and in the greater IT world.
  • Sonny Fisher, the founder of FORUS Global Digital Exchange, was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2019 IT Contributor of the Year for his visionary ICT leadership and work on developing FORUS, an ecosystem of digital tools and financial products that is a gateway enabling broad-based financial inclusion and participation. The FORUS Platform enables communities to develop their own asset base on a transparent platform that cuts out corruption. The ecosystem is international and will enable collaboration across peoples and sectors traditionally excluded or marginalized in many territories. Core to the financial model is the exclusion of interest from the platform. No lending charges are applied to productive loans. His vision is to accomplish a systemic change in the financial payments and finance sector that will result in a total paradigm shift and financial inclusion at scale.