Johannesburg – Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy has unveiled a High School Turnaround Strategy which will empower over 5 000 matriculants annually with the appropriate skills and workplace experience.
The programme, launched on Wednesday at John Orr Technical High School, will ensure more young people leave school with the knowledge, skills and values they need to find a place in an institution of higher learning or find decent work.
It will be implemented by the department and a number of private companies in 41 technical high schools across the province. John Orr is a flagship school, which will pave the way for other 40 schools.
Speaking at the launch, Creecy stressed the need to increase the number of technically trained learners that are ready to make a contribution to the economic growth of the country.
She said through the turnaround strategy, the department will raise the status of technical education in Gauteng and attract high performing learners with potential into fields that can directly impact on various industries.
“Our intention is that John Orr will be transformed from a conventional technical high school into Gauteng’s leading educational institution that offers state-of-the-art technical education and training, and serves as our model for the upgrading of [the other] 40 technical schools,” Creecy said.
In January 2011, John Orr was declared a School of Excellence. This was followed by an implementation of a vigorous selection process to identify high potential learners, who had just completed Grade 7 in primary schools throughout the province.
A total of 160 learners were selected and they became the Grade 8 class of 2012, the first class of the new centre.
A second group was selected at the end of 2012, and in 2013, the school has 142 Grade 8 and 161 Grade 9 learners.
The year 2012 saw the start of the school’s infrastructure improvement programme, which included four laboratories being overhauled and improved at a cost of R3 million. R5 million was spent on revamping the mechanical and electrical workshops, including the donation of a new car and 10 engines from Imperial.
All ICT infrastructure was also upgraded and a new ICT laboratory built at a cost of R2 million. Teachers at John Orr now have laptops to assist them in their teaching and a variety of new maths textbooks and resources have been provided to Grade 8 and 9 learners.
In addition to improving the physical environment, the school has instituted a new management system and implemented a rigorous management and support programme for the school management team.
Creecy noted that refurbishment and upgrading of workshops in technical schools has started.
“To date, 83 workshops in 23 of the schools have been refurbished at a cost of R22 million. An amount of R14 million has been budgeted in this financial year to continue this process.
“By June 2013, 41 schools will receive at least two metal turning lathes and one milling machine. These plans over the next three years include resourcing schools with specialised tools and equipment,” Creecy announced.
The partnership between the department, with Sasol Inzalo Foundation, Imperial and Ukhamba Community Development Trust as well as the Wits and Johannesburg Universities, has made it possible to transform John Orr to a centre of excellence in Maths, Science and Technology.
Sean Fenn, Divisional General Manager in the Development and Learning at Imperial Automotive Retail Division, said the Imperial Holdings puts an estimated 700 apprentices through their academies annually to become mechanics of the various trades.
“They are just so hard to find ready to be employed and so the John Orr investment is about establishing of a pipeline of employment for John Orr and for Imperial,” Fenn said.
He added that there was a desperate need from business, education and government to repair the feeding pipelines into the academies and the industry at large.
Sasol Inzalo Foundation’s Dr Yvonne Muthien said the programme will offer excellence in teaching and learning, particularly but not exclusively in maths, science, engineering, technology and allied subjects.
“It will deliver school leavers who are effectively prepared to succeed in post-secondary education and training in science, engineering and technology and in the technical world of work.
“We acknowledge that we are trying to do big innovation here and as with big innovations with lasting impact, it is taking some doing - something we were always ready for,” said Dr Muthiesn.
John Orr school principal, Johan Venter, described the programme as a great innovation and hoped that more great things were going to happen in the technical high schools. – SAnews.gov.za