In a quiet corner of bustling Ekurhuleni town of Kempton Park, a quiet revolution was taking place. The lives of 560 learners from eight technical high schools and four Further Education and Training colleges were about to be irrevocably changed. The scene of the revolution, Kempton Park Civic Hall was transformed for the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy’s Grade 12 students’ graduation ceremony on Wednesday 30 January 2013.
The academy, launched two years ago in South Africa, is part of a global initiative to develop 10 000 electronics engineers on the African continent by 2015. Academies already have been established in Kenya and Nigeria, with additional centres to be opened in Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire this year.
“Samsung realised that in order to meet its business goals it needed to take an active role in developing electronic engineering talent across the continent,” says Ntutule Tshenye, Corporate Citizenship Lead at Samsung Africa. “And we are well on track to meet our goal.”
The Academy, situated in Boksburg, provides 240 Grade 10 to Grade 12 students from eight participating technical high schools as well as 320 students from four Further Education and Training (FET) colleges in the Ekurhuleni municipality with free, hands-on, vocational skills training. The students attend the Academy after school for two hours every day of the week. The program comprises basic, intermediate and advanced engineering skills aligned to the students’ curriculum at school. The coursework is developed in consultation with the Electrical Technology Facilitator in the district so that the Academy introduces students to industry appropriate skills, tools and equipment.
Through the Academy, those learners who do not have the opportunity to attend tertiary institutions will have access to skilled, well-paying job opportunities – supporting the South African government’s drive to address the problem of youth unemployment.
“Last year, 100% of graduates were placed in positions at Samsung’s service centre, knock-down plant and call centre partners in Gauteng and the aim is to do the same with the class of 2012,” said Tshenye.
Graduates and guests were addressed by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, “Technical education is a cornerstone of any aspiring developing country and we, at UJ, are committed to supporting any organisation working to advance skills development in South Africa.”
Ecstatic parents ululated and danced in the isles as each of the graduates received a certificate for their achievements. Grade 12 learner, Refiloe Machaba took top honours and walked away with gadgets from Samsung.
“I’m grateful to everyone who supported during the programme,” said Machaba. “The fact that we are graduating today shows that hard-work and commitment pays off.”
-by Nontsikelelo Mpulo