Oct 2022 2nd Edition

Empowering Ekangalaís learners through mining

Written by: Dimpho Mogale

The learners of Ekangala Engineering School of Specialisation are obtaining a range of critical skills suitable for the mining sector, thanks to a new curriculum. 

The new school of specialisation is the 21st to be launched by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, and its curriculum focuses on skills needed in the mining sector.

It is located at Ekangala in Bronkhorstspruit, which is home to several mines, including Petra Diamonds in nearby Cullinan.

School principal Zanele Tjiana says the idea to change the name and curriculum of the former Ekangala Comprehensive High School to Ekangala Engineering School of Specialisation came from the Premier’s Office.

“I supported the idea and highlighted the fact that many people in our community are unemployed because many factories have shut down. The school now focuses on mining because Ekangala is surrounded by mines,” she says. 

The school now offers technical subjects and a dynamic curriculum that teaches welding, fitting and turning, automotive mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, excavation and mining skills.Zanele Tjiana, the principal of Ekangala Engineering School of Specialisation.

According to MEC Lesufi, recent statistics show that 85% of matric learners go to university after matric and become academics. Schools of specialisation will help create more artisans and technically skilled people.

“Learners in such schools will be able to either work immediately at industry-leading companies, or they will embark on entrepreneurship and start their own businesses,” he says.

The school has partnered with Petra Diamonds to arrange field trips for the learners to the mines so that they can explore career opportunities in the industry. Petra is also sponsoring bursaries for learners from Grade 10 right through to tertiary level. Currently, three youngsters have bursaries to study at the University of Pretoria. Two of them achieved 100% in mathematics and physical science. A Grade 10 learner is also benefitting from the partnership.

School fees are R800 per year and in exchange, learners receive a quality education.    According to the Department of Basic Education, if parents who, for whatever reason, cannot afford school fees and needs assistance to apply for exemption or lodge an appeal, they may request the school fees committee chairperson or any members of the School Fees Committee to assist him or her in making the application. The School Fees Committee must respond in writing to the parents on the outcome of their application within 14 days of applying. The school achieved an 80% matric pass rate in 2021 and hopes to increase this to 90% this year.

There are currently 1 061 learners from Grade 8 to Grade 12. One learner, Sihle Sibanyoni (17), who is in Grade 11, enjoys electronics, technical mathematics and technical sciences subjects. “I want to become an electrical engineer and ‘the next big thing’ in the mining industry,” she says.

To be admitted to the school, applicants who have passed Grade 7 must pass an aptitude test with an average of 60% in mathematics, English and natural science.

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