and the K-Netters
hi-tech model for kids
What do you do after
you have established the largest computer training
institution in southern Africa? If you are Jil
Hrdliczka, ex-principal Damelin Computer School, you
put your formidable business skills to work building
your own company.
You create a new
market and set a pace that leaves would-be
competitors gasping. Because you care deeply about
what you are doing, the solid framework you build
entices entrepreneurs to become franchisees of your
The company is
K.Net, a technology network where kids and teenagers
learn how to make computers work for them. As you
would expect of an innovator in the education field,
K.Net is not a traditional teaching environment.
Experience has given
Hrdliczka uncanny insight into the unique needs of
K.Net's young market. The music blares, the
furniture is of the irresistible beanbag variety,
roller blades lie waiting in the entrance and no one
counts how many times the kids visit the soft-drink
and candy machines.
What counts is they
are learning life skills in a meaningful way for
them. "You can't force a boring course on a 14
year old, over a drawn out period, and expect him to
care about it," says Hrdliczka.
"You have got
to make it exciting. We mentor. We lead kids to draw
their own intelligent conclusions. They are
amazingly creative if the environment allows them to
Having developed all
of Damelin's computer school courses, Hrdliczka
knows that it's not enough to learn word processing
and spread sheets in today's technology driven
world. "We are only company in South Africa
today which is providing a model for the
technological business world, our children will
are not just teaching computer skills, we are taking
kids through an evolutionary development process.
"They work with
tools like the Internet and they need to understand
graphic representation of information using video,
animation and multimedia. Computer technology
develops so fast kids need a resource which enables
them to keep up to date. This is another role K.Net
And of course there
is the K.Net Club, which is one of the few clubs
available to kids which offers benefits more
tangible than a badge.
Many kids who have
access to computers have no idea how to get the most
benefits out of them.
Through K.Net's Club
and its centre in Rivonia, it helps parents fulfil
the potential of an expensive investment by teaching
children what to do with computers, using available
software. Hrdliczka has been fast in meeting market
needs by extending the initially designed K.Net
courses to include programmes for parents.
month K.Net is holding the first National Computer
Technology conference for kids and teenagers. Just
as K.Net is about freeing the mind, a K.Net school
franchise offers an infrastructure to business
professionals and schools who want to partner their
skills with those of a successful corporate family.