Sunday World (South Africa)

Township school draws big industry attention

Pupils attached to companies starting from Grade 8

- By Phumla Mkize

The principal and deputy principal of the Katlehong Engineerin­g School of Specialisa­tion in Ekurhuleni are amassing quite a reputation as the school has become a centre of excellence with big industry decision-makers knocking at their door to woo their engineerin­g pupils.

The duo, principal Jaco Opperman and his deputy Rantshane Bogopa, are writing the manual on how Gauteng’s 21 schools of specialisa­tion must operate in their collaborat­ion with industry role players and the community for the benefit of the pupils’ future.

The school, which was previously a technical school, was launched as an engineerin­g school of specialisa­tion with a focus on manufactur­ing, logistics and transport two years ago, in August 2019.

The schools of specialisa­tion, with the first one launched in 2016, offers a combinatio­n of theory and practical work in engineerin­g; maths, science, and ICT; commerce and entreprene­urship; sports; and performing and creative arts.

Opperman, who has been with the school for eight years, told Sunday World that all the pupils at the school are attached to companies starting from Grade 8.

“Partners are now coming to us,” said Opperman.

When asked what they are doing to attract industry partners when some schools are battling to forge partnershi­ps for practicals, he said: “It is by taking good care of the partners you already have. It then becomes simple for those partners to recommend you to others.

“Our partners tell us what they want, and our job is to make sure we provide them with learners who have the skills they want.”

When each pupil completes grade 12 they have a driver’s licence; training to operate a crane and forklift, and have completed a swimming course.

Bogopa said the school had 1 483 pupils who all come from the township, with the majority being girls (62%).

The no-fee paying school also plays an integral part in uplifting the community of Katlehong. It grows vegetables using hydroponic­s and aquaponics.

The school also has a chicken farm with layers. “Community members buy the eggs from the school to resell. Even the veggies benefit the community,” said Bogopa.

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