The aim of the National Development Plan is to create a capable state,
with citizens who have the right skills and competencies to grow South Africa’s economy.
According to the Department of Public Works (DPW) Chief Director for Professional Services Vangile Manzini,
the DPW’s initiatives to promote educational excellence and create jobs aim to provide some of these skills and competencies.
Manzini said that to break apartheid’s chains that still hold South Africa back, 24 years into democracy,
“we need a radical approach to implement skills interventions, starting at primary schools”.
In 2008, the Council for the Built Environment commissioned a study to examine the skills gap.
The study unearthed a number of issues. It found that school learners’ poor performance in mathematics and physical science was impeding the growth of skills required in the sector.
“Based on the findings of the study, the council developed a Built Environment Skills Pipeline Strategy which looked at how
the sector could intervene in the school system to improve performance in maths and science,” Manzini explained.
Another problem identifi ed was that not many learners studied maths and science as major subjects in high school.
As a result, the built environment is competing for the same cohort of learners who are needed by other sectors such as science and technology, aviation, the medical field and mining.
In addition, not all learners who took maths and science in matric qualified for admission to universities.
“For this reason, the DPW decided to establish a unit that will focus on technical capacity building and human capital,” she said.
Boosting learner performance To address these challenges, the department established a schools programme to support top performers in Grades 10, 11 and 12.
Manzini said the DPW works with education district offices across the country to identify schools with a pass rate that exceeds 65 percent in maths and science.
“The schools must be on farms, in rural areas and townships as the department does not target former Model C schools for this programme,” explained Manzini.
Selected schools identify its top Grade 8 learners, who are then enlisted into the programme until matric.
The learners attend daily tutorial classes in maths and science. They also attend weekend tutorials throughout the year.
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