Commuting from the township of Orange Farm to Lenasia can take more than four hours on foot, or a half hour taxi drive, given that you hop on and off a few different taxis. Many of the township’s teenagers attend the M H Joosub High School in Lenasia and this is their daily commute.
Prior to 1994, the M H Joosub high school was a trade school that offered courses including mechanics and engineering science. However, 22 years ago the school adopted a full academic programme and has since tried to expand the number of skills it could offer its pupils.
Several educators at the school said that while a lot of their pupils have the ability to become highly skilled professionals, they do not have the equipment to help supplement their theoretical learning experience.
Knight Piésold Consulting, the oldest South African engineering consulting firm in the country, saw an opportunity to help the school grow its facilities and develop its pupils and recently partnered with them, agreeing to invest in its Mathematics and Science departments.
The programme, called Bokamoso, meaning ‘future’, will see the development of a computer lab that will host 24 new computers. The company is also working towards developing a holiday school which will see its engineers joining pupils on weekends and holidays to help develop their skills in Maths and Science.
Speaking at the programme launch, Vishal Haripersad, Managing Director at Knight Piésold assured pupils that the company was not making a donation to the school, but making an investment in their future. He spoke of the company’s plans to begin an ongoing relationship and motivated pupils to aspire to study engineering with the support of a company bursary.
“South Africans are the most important people who can make a change in this country,” he said. “Companies from America and Britain aren’t the only ones who invest in South Africa. As a South African firm, we want you to succeed,” he added.
In addition to the computer lab which will serve as a key learning centre, chemistry sets, chemicals, and Maths, Science and Chemistry study guides were given to the school.
The school’s pupils, teachers and Principal expressed their excitement at the opportunities that the Bokamoso programme has brought. “Learners must take these opportunities to grab the future because they are the future,” Principal Amit said.
Mashooda Ismail from the Department of Education commended the company on its efforts to help foster Maths and Science.
“We know that there is a severe lack of engineers in South Africa,” she said, “And that is why we are so pleased because we cannot do it alone. We need companies to help benefit our learners.”
While study guides and equipment for practicals have already been delivered to the school, the learning centre is scheduled to launch next February, and the holiday schooling programme that will be used to assess and tutor pupils will be launched later in 2017.